Although white students made up about 60 percent of the student body in public schools in 2001, white teachers made up 90 percent of the teaching corps in those schools, according to a new analysis of teacher diversity prepared by the National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force. While 17 percent of students in 2001 were black, only 6 percent of teachers were black.
“Today there are too few teachers of color, too few qualified teachers, and too many teachers who leave too soon,” said Rushern L. Baker III, executive director of the Community Teachers Institute, one of six members of the collaborative. Other members include the National Education Association and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Saying that black students tend to perform better when taught by black teachers, the collaborative proposes changing the No Child Left Behind law to specify “diversity” as a critical element of a “highly qualified” teacher workforce. Another proposal is to help minority candidates pass teacher entry tests.
One major element of diversity the collaborative does not address in its report is gender and the disproportionate lack of males in the teaching profession. Since 1971, the percentage of male teachers has dropped from 34.3 percent to only 21.0 percent in 2001. Almost four out of five teachers in public schools are female.
George A. Clowes ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.
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The November 2004 analysis by the National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force, “Assessment of Diversity in America’s Teaching Force: A Call to Action,” is available online at http://www.nea.org/teacherquality/images/diversityreport.pdf.