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We Need More Diversity in Our Teacher Workforce

A recent review of empirical studies also shows that students of color do better on a variety of academic outcomes if they’re taught by teachers of color.

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At some point over the next 10 to 12 years, the nation’s public school student body will have no one clear racial or ethnic majority. In other words, students of color—students who are not classified as non-Hispanic whites, for purposes of this analysis—will constitute more than half of our primary and secondary students. This demographic trend is already manifest in some of the nation’s most populous states, including California and Texas, where the majority of students are students of color.

But the makeup of the nation’s teacher workforce has not kept up with these changing demographics. At the national level, students of color make up more than 40 percent of the public school population. In contrast, teachers of color—teachers who are not non-Hispanic white—are only 17 percent of the teaching force.

This is a problem for students, schools, and the public at large. Teachers of color serve as role models for students, giving them a clear and concrete sense of what diversity in education—and in our society—looks like. A recent review of empirical studies also shows that students of color do better on a variety of academic outcomes if they’re taught by teachers of color.

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