Report Roundup

Numbers of Black Teachers Drop in Nine City School Districts

“The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education”

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Nine major urban school districts have lost many black teachers since the early 2000s, some of them by a disproportionate number, according to a new report released last week.

The research by the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank supported by the American Federation of Teachers, raises questions about whether districts are doing enough to hold onto minority teachers, who tend to work in higher-poverty schools.

The districts studied are in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago districts are the three largest in the nation. They serve about 1 million, 670,000, and 350,000 students, respectively.

Snapshot: Philadelphia's Demographic Mismatch

In the Philadelphia school system, a 19 percent drop in the percentage of black teachers exacerbated the gap between the racial and ethnic makeups of its student and teacher populations.

Many of those cities have seen significant contraction in their student populations over the past decade, so some decline in the teaching population was expected. But black teachers were often more heavily hit than other groups. In Cleveland, for example, the overall teaching force shrank by 17 percent between 2001 and 2011, but the percentage of black teachers declined by 34 percent.

Philadelphia's teaching force increased by 13 percent from 2001 to 2011, but the percentage of black teachers dropped by 19 percent over that time. Philadelphia also has the greatest gap between the racial and ethnic makeups of its teachers and students.

The report notes that it provides only descriptive figures rather than a causal explanation for the findings, and it concludes by offering recommendations on how the federal government, states, districts, and schools can increase teacher diversity.

Vol. 35, Issue 05, Page 5

Published in Print: September 23, 2015, as Numbers of Black Teachers Drop in Nine City School Districts
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