While the majority of U.S students are children of color, only 20% of teachers are people of color. What’s more, 40% of the nation’s public schools do not have a single teacher of color on record. Research shows that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, benefit socially, emotionally, and academically from a diverse teacher workforce. Yet, teachers of color are more likely to experience burnout and leave the profession at higher rates than their White peers.

Amid rising censorship efforts, teacher shortages, and declines in enrollment to teacher preparation programs, state leaders must find effective ways to diversify their educator workforce and boost student outcomes by recruiting, supporting, and retaining more educators of color.

States in Action

In July 2022, more than 100 educators of color from seven different states, along with advocates, and leaders of national organizations, gathered in Philadelphia for a convening, “Building a Movement: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Educator Workforce.” Hosted by Ed Trust and the Center for Black Educator Development (CBED), the convening leveraged research and policy recommendations from Ed Trust, including state educator diversity briefs in each state that include data on student and educator diversity and investments in policies that increase the diversity of the educator workforce.

State Context

In the chart below, the Ed Trust Educator Diversity State Profiles highlight data for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years in seven selected states:* These data points paint a clear picture of the need to diversify the teacher workforce across states to meet the changing demographics of the country.

*For a deeper dive, please visit each state’s page using Ed Trust’s Teacher Diversity 50-State Scan data tool at diversity/.

State Recommendations

More than 100 educators of color developed action plans for their respective states to increase teacher diversity. These are the top three policy levers that educators of color identified, with proposed solutions and best practices:

Policy Lever 1: Make educator diversity data visible and actionable to stakeholders

Proposed Solutions : Report teacher diversity on state dashboards and urge the state departments of education to collect and report data on state dashboards to improve visibility of the lack of educator diversity.

Promising Practices: Delaware’s educator mobility data dashboard includes data on the retention, transfer, and turnover rates for full-time staff, disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

Policy Lever 2: Set clear goals at the state, district, and teacher preparation level to increase educator diversity

Proposed Solutions : Create statewide goals to strengthen the teacher workforce with which districts can align and report progress while encouraging educator preparation programs to have recruitment and retention goals for teacher candidates of color.

Promising  Practices:  Arkansas has a clear, numeric goal to increase the number of teachers of color in public schools by 25% by 2025 on the state website and requires all districts to create and post a Teacher and Administrator Recruitment and Retention plan to increase the diversity of the teacher workforce.

Policy Lever 3: Invest in efforts to retain teachers of color that improve working conditions and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth

Proposed Solutions : Create a reimbursement program that would aid pre-service and in-service educators, push state leaders to allocate funding to specific retention efforts and creation of a task force.

Promising Practices: Minnesota’s $6 million investment in 2022 and 2023 for districts to develop affinity groups and other retention strategies that prioritize teachers of color.

When creating and implementing policies and practices that affect classrooms, it’s imperative that students and teachers have a permanent seat at the decision-making table. These recommendations were created by teachers of color to advance policy changes that directly affect teachers of color, the schools in which they work, and the students they teach. State leaders must continue to center the voices and stories of teachers of color and their students. Teachers of color are ready to act; they just need an opportunity to be heard.

To see how your state fares on educator diversity, visit Ed Trust’s 50-State Scan data tool at diversity/.