As part of its focus on education equity, the U.S. Department of Education studied diversity among K-12 educators. While acknowleding that all forms of diversity (socioeconomic, gender, religious, etc.) can have a positive impact on the classroom, the researchers focused on ethnic diversity and the need to have recruit and retain teachers of color. Even as the U.S. heads toward having more minority students than white, though, only 18% U.S. K-12 teachers identify as non-white.
“A diverse teacher workforce isn’t just a nicety—it’s a real contributor to better outcomes in our schools, workplaces, and communities,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said in a press release. “It’s important for students of color to have role models who look like them and share common experiences. It’s just as important for all students to see teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities. We must work together to support states and districts as they work to prepare, hire, support, and retain a more diverse teacher workforce.”
- In the 1987-88 school year, 13 percent of public school teachers were teachers of color compared to 18 percent in the 2011–12 school year.
- Education leaders are also predominantly white. In the 2011–12 school year, only 20 percent of public school principals were individuals of color.
- Bachelor’s degree students are less diverse than high school graduates. In 2011–12, while 38 percent of bachelor’s degree students were students of color, 43 percent of public high school graduates were students of color.
- Like completion rates in other fields of study, bachelor’s degree completion rates for students who major in education are lower for black and Hispanic students than for white students.
- Teacher retention rates are higher among white teachers compared to black and Hispanic teachers.
“The number of potential teachers of color decreases at multiple points in the teacher pipeline,” concludes the report. “If we are to meaningfully increase the diversity of the teacher workforce, more must be done, starting with preparation and completion, to recruitment and selection, and then placement and retention. Making changes at these inflection points will help us meaningfully increase diversity.”
Read The State of Racial Diversity In the Educator Workforce, U.S. Department of Education (May 2016)