Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and leaders in Congress have been called to act to address the lack of teacher diversity in our nation’s classrooms in a letter from a coalition of 75 education organizations representing teachers, preservice teachers, school counselors, education staff, principals, superintendents, charter school leaders, education reformers, tutors, and teacher educators. The list of signatories includes Association of American Educators Foundation, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, Educators Rising, Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, National Council for the Social Studies, National Association of Special Education Teachers, Organization of American Historians, American Association for Employment in Education, Association of Teacher Educators, American Association of Physics Teachers, Kappa Delta Pi, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Educators for Excellence.
The letter, citing federal data and university studies, reports that 53% of public school students are children of color, while only 18% of teachers identify as a person of color. Studies reveal this disparity causes overall lower student achievement and outcomes, especially in populations of at-risk students and students of color.
The letter states, “We believe that increasing teacher diversity elevates the teaching profession and improves the lives and outcomes of all students,” and calls on all parties involved to play a role in addressing the problem and volunteers the services of the undersigned organizations to help Congress and the Department of Education determine how proposed regulations and legislation may increase or decrease teacher diversity.
“Our teaching population is not reflective of the students they serve, which is no fault of the good women and men in teaching today,” explains Colin Sharkey, executive director of Association of American Educators (AAE) Foundation. “We know this lack of racial diversity can have a devastating effect on the academic achievement of students of color and it means countless persons of color are discouraged from choosing education, which has a negative impact on the profession.”
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) VP of K-12 Advocacy Sekou Biddle, who co-signed the letter, stated, “UNCF is dedicated to improving outcomes for African-American students to ensure they are well-equipped to enter and succeed in college; and we are committed to working with AAE to develop sound and effective solutions to diversify the teacher workforce.”
“We believe the collective effort of these signatories and other organizations committed to this issue will lead to solutions improving pathways for the next generation of educators and addressing issues of morale, training, and support disproportionately impacting teachers of color but too commonplace for all teachers,” added Sharkey.
More information, including the full letter text, list of signatories, articles and studies cited in the letter, is available at aaeteachers.org/diversity.