You can research the racial makeup of educators in any number of places, such as this study, this study analysis, or this 2015 NY Times article that asks, “Where are the Teachers of Color?” The numbers change depending on the years and the part of the country, but the fact is, American educators are disproportionately white, even in areas that are majority minority.
Surely, it’s clear I care because I’m an educator of color myself, but if it were just a fact, and it had no impact on outcomes, it wouldn’t really matter that much. There are plenty of career tracks that correlate strongly with particular demographics, and sometimes for perfectly innocent reasons. But, as many of those pieces show, there are real issues in a monochromatic group of educators – not the least of which is that, just by nature, most people struggle with cross-racial empathy and understanding – especially considering that so many minority students lack support.
My question isn’t really about whether or not it would help to have more teachers of color. If we go along with the premise that it would be beneficial (disagree if you’d like), my question becomes, how do we make the job and the career more attractive to different demographics?
“It’s the money!” you say.
Yeah, okay. But aside from that – and teacher salaries, while not high (it depends on the state and county, of course), are not as low as many other common careers – what makes someone choose a job? And what is making minority college graduates choose other careers?
It could simply be that there are only so many graduates. People of color graduate at lower rates that white students, and black men in particular have the lowest rates of any racial/gender group.
With that said, in that same article you can see that graduation rates are increasing, bit by bit, over time, for all groups and even for the groups who tend to struggle. I am hesitant to say that the best remedy might simply be to wait for college graduation rates to pull even, but that far-off hope may be the likeliest option.
But what do you think?