New York State School Boards Association

Report notes efforts to increase numbers of minority teachers

by Gayle Simidian

On Board Online • December 11, 2017

By Gayle Simidian
Research Analyst

Eight minority high school students in Syracuse with an interest in a career in teaching will soon be doing job shadow days in school, making lesson plans and taking college courses. The program is one of several initiatives across the state aimed at increasing the number of teachers of color.

About 43 percent of students in New York school districts are black or Latino, but only 16 percent of teachers are, according to a recent report called See Our Truth by the Education Trust - New York.

Described as the "first-ever detailed look at statewide data exploring what teacher and school leader diversity looks like in districts across New York," the research included nearly 100 interviews with students, teachers and others. "We have sought to learn from the experiences of and amplify the voices of students and educators of color," Education Trust - New York said in a news release.

The makeup of the teacher workforce varies by region. About one-third of the teachers in public schools in New York City are either black or Latino, according to the report. However, less than 20 percent of educators in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are black or Latino.

In other parts of the state, there is a greater chance that Latino and black children go to a school without any Latino or black educators. In school districts designated as low- or average-need, the average school employs fewer than two Latino and/or black teachers.

The report also discussed diversity in school leadership. "Eighty-four percent of white students - more than 977,000 students - attend schools without a single Latino or black principal or assistant principal," the report said.

The report recommends that school districts keep data on all aspects of the hiring process and review it to gain insight about the applicant pool, applicants interviewed, applicants hired and retention of those hired. According to the report, the state should provide guidance for this process and the gathering of these data.

Another way to seek a more diverse teacher pool is to implement a "Grow Your Own" initiative which cultivates future teachers from the school community itself. For example, qualified minority teacher aides in Valley Stream 13 Union Free School District in Nassau County receive mentoring to seek teacher certification and teach in the district, according to Superintendent Constance Evelyn. This program is one of several efforts the district has made to uphold a long-term school board goal of "diversifying the staff in an effort to ensure that they attract highly qualified diverse educators reflective of the changing demographics of their families and students," Evelyn said.

The report also called for "greater attention on retention, support, and career advancement for educators of color." The report said, "The state should provide guidance and support that helps school districts address implicit bias, improve support for teachers, and create more inclusive and supportive environments."

To view the report, go to goo.gl/hw98rz .


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