Why Diversity Matters
A growing body of educational research demonstrates the positive impacts of teachers of color on short- and long-term academic outcomes of all students. For students of color, the research finds that having just one teacher of color at any point between kindergarten and third grade can boost academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment rates (Dee, 2004; Gershenson, 2018). There is also mounting evidence that students of all races experience greater levels of success and are better prepared to work and live in an increasingly diverse and connected world when racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse educators are present in their schools (Page, 2007; Phillips, 2014).
These critical benefits are denied to students across the U.S. by a stark racial disparity in the educator workforce. Nationally, students of color represent 50% of total public K-12 enrollment. By 2060, that number will climb to 66%. However, people of color make up only 18% of the educator workforce. This national disparity persists on the state level. While some New England states do not collect racial demographic data on their educator workforces, those that do present a trend:
In light of these findings, recruiting and retaining a diverse educator workforce must be a priority for New England states who are serious about addressing racial and ethnic achievement disparities. It is against this backdrop that we offer our thoughts and considerations for leaders in the following report. Recruiting, preparing, hiring, retaining, and promoting racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse educators is an important step to eradicate achievement disparities seen across New England and the U.S. We have a collective responsibility—whether we hold positional leadership roles or whether we exert influence attributed to our dispositional leadership—to ensure that our education system welcomes, prepares, and nurtures racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse teachers and administrators.
At the core, our efforts to diversify the educator workforce in New England are rooted in a desire to eliminate racism and racial bias. We view the work outlined in this report as being intentionally antiracist. This requires us to face an uncomfortable truth: Our current systems for preparing, recruiting, hiring, and retaining educators are steeped in racial bias and thus discourage or actively prevent people of color from joining and remaining in the educator workforce. In order to increase the overall number of educators of color, we believe it is imperative to confront current systems through an antiracist lens and redesign the systems to produce more racially, ethnically, and linguistically equitable results.