Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Teachers Don’t Reflect Student Diversity

The time is fast approaching when nonwhite students will be the majority of public school students. The Associated Press reports that the tipping point could be as early as next fall, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

But a new report by the Center for American Progress, “America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom,” shows that teacher demographics are dramatically lagging the diversity of students. 

Teachers of color only make up only 18 percent of public teachers, according to CAP. Even in California, where the majority of students are Latino and 73 percent are not white, only 29 percent of teachers are nonwhite.

The CAP study cites past research showing that minority teachers have higher expectations for students of color, are more likely to teach culturally relevant lessons, and are able to address issues of discrimination.

Kevin Gilbert, coordinator of teacher leadership for the Clinton Public School District in Mississippi told the AP that minority students are able to believe in themselves more when they have a teacher that looks like them and who they can relate to. “Nothing can help motivate our students more than to see success standing right in front of them,” he said. 

The report acknowledges that the lack of diversity is not solely due to hiring decisions. It also notes that not enough minorities are enrolling in college, not enough are studying education, and those that do sometimes struggle on licensing exams. The report also notes that minority teachers leave the teaching profession at higher rates than white teachers.

The report recommends that the federal government create a national teacher corps that would help provide college graduates with paid teacher training. The report also urges federal funding of grants to teacher education programs at universities serving predominantly minority students. Lastly, scholarship programs  are urged.