Maya Chung, NBC News, September 17, 2015
Although small strides have been made toward diversifying the U.S. school system over the past couple of decades, a new report shows there’s still a long way to go.
At a national level, schools have made progress in the hiring of minority teachers, according to a report by the Albert Shanker Institute, “The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education.” The attrition amongst minority teachers, however, is higher.
According to the report, the conditions of the schools teachers work in play a significant role.
“There is this huge heralded success in the growth of recruitment rates for minority teachers but they’ve been undermined by these high quit rates,” said Richard Ingersoll, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and contributor to the report. “My own conclusion is that we will not really close that gap until we go beyond recruitment and look at retention.”
The study looked at the education system on a national level between 1987 to 2012, as well as schools in nine cities (Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) across America between 2002 and 2012.
In each of the nine cities studied, the share of black teachers in the workforce declined, at rates from the very small to the quite large — from roughly 1 percent in Boston’s charter sector and Cleveland’s district sector, to more than 24 percent in New Orleans and nearly 28 percent in Washington, D.C. Losses in the population of black teachers were even greater, ranging from a low of 15 percent in New York City to a high of 62 percent in New Orleans.
“Minority teachers are disproportionately employed in predominantly urban, predominantly poor, and predominantly high minority schools,” Ingersoll said. “But such schools are not as attractive workplaces . . . and because minority teachers are the ones teaching at these schools, they have higher quit rates.”
According to the report, in schools with better working conditions, retention rates for minority teachers are similar to those of white teachers.