Mounting research on the importance of a diverse teaching force combined with the recent surge in support for racial justice has spurred a wide-ranging commitment to increasing teacher diversity. A new national survey of K-12 teachers conducted for FutureEd by the RAND Corporation found that 81 percent of the nation’s teachers think it is “important or extremely important” for students of color to be taught by teachers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and 79 percent think it is “important or extremely important” to have colleagues of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Yet while students of color comprise more than 50 percent of public-school enrollment nationally, a share expected to grow steadily in the years ahead, nearly 80 percent of teachers are White. And only 58 percent of the teachers in the FutureEd survey think their school district is “committed or very committed” to teacher racial and ethnic diversity. In many states, the lack of teacher diversity means that many students attend schools and districts that do not employ a single teacher of color.
To help education policymakers and practitioners make the national aspiration for a more diverse teaching force a reality, FutureEd Senior Fellow Lynn Olson examines in depth in this report the barriers to teacher diversity and the most promising steps that school districts, states, the federal government, and teacher-preparation programs can take to bring more teachers of color into classrooms and encourage them to stay.