By Nigel Boys
According to new research from two Washington, D.C. based organizations, while almost 50% of students in U.S. public schools are from minority groups, less than 20% of teachers are from the same ethnic origins.
In their reports, the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union representing public school teachers, said they would like to see something done about this obvious lack of diversity of teachers in American public elementary and secondary schools.
Kevin Gilbert, executive committee member of the NEA, said that students tend to learn faster from their teachers and believe what they are telling them, if that teacher comes from the same racial background.
The coordinator of teacher leadership and special projects for Mississipi’s Clinton Public School District went on to say that if students see a successful teacher from their own minority group standing right in front of them, they will be more confident and motivated to replicate that success.
According to Ulrich Boser, author of the CAP report, other students who do not come from minority races would also benefit from being taught by a teacher from a different background. He adds that students would then realize that there are many different people from many diverse cultures in our nation and they would also learn how to integrate with them.
A study by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2012, shows that of the 3.3 million teachers in the U.S., only 8% were Hispanic, 7% black and 2% of Asian origin, while 82% of the teacher population were white.
When you compare these figures with the data from CAP, there is a vast difference in the amount of diversity among students in U.S. public schools in comparison to their teachers. The data shows that 23% of students are Hispanic, 16% black and 5% Asian.
According to U.S. Secretary of Education and former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, in the very near future, the majority of students in public schools will be nonwhite.
However, LaRuth Gray, scholar-in-residence at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity, believes that the reason there are so few African-American teachers in the public school system, is because the job has lost its appeal to black students. She added that these students are now going into other fields to look for a secure future and more money.