Student Diversity in U.S. Schools Reaches Record Levels; Teacher Diversity Lags

For the first time ever, U.S. public schools will have more minority students than non-Hispanic white students, according to projections from the National Center for Education Statistics. This shift comes largely from growth in the number of Hispanic children attending school. 

Non-Hispanic white students still comprise the single largest racial group in the public schools at 49.8%. About one-quarter of the students are Hispanic, 15% are black, and 5% are Asian and Pacific Islanders. Biracial students and Native Americans make up a smaller share of the student population. For further information, read this article from ABC News.

Diversity in the nation’s teaching corps has not kept pace. According to a report from the National Center for Education Information., 84% of U.S. public school K-12 teachers in 2011 were white, 7% were black, 6% were Hispanic, and 4% identified with other ethnicities. To learn more, see the full report.

There are signs of progress, however. For instance, this year’s Teach for America corps is the most diverse in the organization’s history. According to Teach for America, 50% of incoming corps members identify themselves as people of color, 47% come from a low-income background, one-third are the first in their families to attend college. About a third of this year’s Teach for America teachers are joining the corps from graduate school or with professional experience.

“Teachers who bring a diversity of experience and perspectives to their work enrich their students’ education,” said Teach for America-Los Angeles Executive Director Lida Jennings. “We’ve seen that great teachers come from all backgrounds and, when teachers share the backgrounds of their students, they can have an additional impact in the classroom and beyond as role models and mentors.”

To learn more, read this Teach for America news release or read this article from Education Week.

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