Teaching Profession Report Roundup

Numbers of Black Teachers Drop in Nine City School Districts

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 21, 2015 1 min read

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

5 page5 PhilliDemographics c1

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.

5 page5 PhilliDemographics c1s

Footnote: The “multiracial” response was available to charter but not district school teachers in 2012, but it is retained in the figure above.
SOURCE: Albert Shanker Institute

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.

A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2015 edition of Education Week as Numbers of Black Teachers Drop in Nine City School Districts

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