News Roundup: Increasing Calls for Ethnic Diversity in Teacher Workforce

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Concern is mounting about the relative lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the teaching force – whether in K-12 or higher education.

About 82 percent of U.S. public school teachers at the K-12 level are white and while 25 percent of public school students, or 1 in 4, is Hispanic, according to the most recent figures available from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Hispanic females and males each made up only 2 percent of the 1.5 million faculty at higher education institutions in 2013, according to NCES data. More than 50 percent were white. Here’s a look at some recent news stories on the issue.

Gainesville, Fla. – July 8

The Gainesville School Board urged its superintendent to “immediately draft strategies to implement hiring priorities for qualified Latino applicants.” The district’s student population is 59 percent Hispanic, but only 3 percent of the system’s certified teachers are Hispanic.

San Marcos, Calif. – July 15

California State University San Marcos launched an academy in June to inspire Latino boys to go into teaching. Eleven students from six high schools participated in the inaugural Encuentros Teacher Academy. According to the San Diego Tribune, national statistics show 7 percent of classroom teachers are Latino, and of that 7 percent, only 2 percent are male.

Ohio – July 16

The Columbus Dispatch reports that when school starts up again in August, Ohio’s public school population will be more diverse than those teaching them.

More than 93 percent of Ohio’ teachers are white, 4 percent are black and less than one percent Hispanic, the newspaper reports. Meanwhile Hispanic students make up 5.2 percent of Ohio’s 1.7 million K-12 students and blacks make up 16.5 percent.

Tennessee – July 18

The results of a recent report by a Nashville group focused on teacher preparation are highlighted in a story in the Tennessean online.

“Poor perceptions of the teaching profession, a lack of finances for prospective educators and few mentors” are some of the reasons for a lack of diversity in the teaching corp, says the report prepared by the Trailblazer Coalition, which includes local universities with teacher preparation programs.

Sonoma, Calif. – July 20th

Nearly 200 professors, students and community activists from across the country attended a conference at Sonoma State University, according to the Press Democrat, spotlighting the ongoing effort to diversify the ranks of academia. The conference was sponsored by Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, or Women Active in Letters and Social Change, a national organization for Latinas and other minority women.

Kingston, NY – July 21

Esther Cepeda, a Hispanic columnist syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group, writes: “When it comes to diversifying America’s teaching corps to better reflect the increasing number of Hispanic students, there’s a big question: If Latino public school students rarely see a Hispanic teacher, how will they ever come to see teaching as an attractive profession?” Cepeda’s column was published in the Daily Freeman in Kingston, NY.