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Recruitment and Retention Key in Diversifying Faculty at Public Schools

The longstanding demographic mismatch between America’s public school teachers and the students they serve got a fresh airing Tuesday at Howard University, where a panel explored the nature of the problem and discussed a variety of potential solutions.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said the lack of diversity among America’s teachers emanates from problems of recruitment and retention.

“Without question, when you have a majority of students in our public schools who are students of color, but only 18 percent of teachers are of color and only 2 percent are African-American men, we have an urgent need to act,” King said during a panel discussion in the auditorium at Howard’s school of social work. “The question for the country is: How do we address this quickly and thoughtfully?”

In many ways, it was distressing to see the acting secretary lament the statistics that delineate the underrepresentation of minority teachers at the tail end of the second term of the Obama administration in much the same way that his predecessor, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, did about six years ago on the same campus.