The Education Zone
Virginia — “Our teachers should be excellent, and they should look like America,” said the Secretary of Education in 1998, during the administration of President Bill Clinton.
It was an admirable goal, backed by federal money, yet it is still out of reach today despite a ballooning number of minority teachers in the workplace. Too many are going in one door and out the other, researchers say.
“Teachers of color are literally at risk: They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in droves,” said Betty Achinstein, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the co-author of Change(d) Agents: New Teachers of Color in Urban Schools, a forthcoming book from Teachers College Press. “It’s a deep concern, if we care at all about the imperative to diversify the teacher workforce.”
During the past 20 years, the number of teachers of color has doubled to 640,000, while the number of white teachers has gone up 40 percent, according to a new and unpublished study from the University of Pennsylvania. Yet teachers of color still represent only 17 percent of the teaching workforce, even as the population of students of color has exploded.