While the demographics of students in public education in California shift toward a majority of Students of Color, the diversification of the education workforce lags. In fact, diversifying the teacher workforce has failed to be a priority throughout U.S. history. This was especially the case in light of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling and school integration efforts in which Black/African American teachers were deemed unqualified to teach White children. As a result, close to 40,000 Black teachers became unemployed in southern and border states. In the years between 1963 and 1970, nearly 50% of Black principals in Georgia, 90% of Black administrators in Kentucky, and 95% Black administrators in North Carolina lost their jobs.
Research broadly suggests that Students of Color in public education benefit greatly from having Teachers of Color. More specifically, a growing body of research on Latina/o/x and Black students suggests that these students who are taught by Latina/o/x and Black teachers have better academic and learning outcomes, such as higher scores on standardized tests, increases in college attendance, and more diverse cultural and linguistic competence. Such positive outcomes are related to various factors, including cultural similarities between teachers and students, easier trust- and rapport-building, and Latina/o/x and Black teachers’ use of culturally relevant pedagogy. Despite these promising findings, the majority of teachers in public schools remain White, even in schools attended mostly by Students of Color. More importantly, although schools have a shortage of Teachers of Color across the country, their hiring practices do not prioritize hiring Teachers of Color.
The challenge of diversifying the education workforce also extends to educational leaders. One study found that Black assistant principals of any gender and women assistant principals of any race are promoted at a lower rate to principalships when compared to White male assistant principals, contributing to a predominantly White male school leadership workforce. With a predominantly White teacher and leadership workforce and a growing population of Students of Color in education, efforts to diversify the education workforce are timely and relevant.
In this brief, we share findings from 12 studies that highlight the challenges and opportunities in diversifying the workforce along the education pipeline. We conclude this brief with reflection questions for practice.