This past school year was the first time in history that racial and ethnic minority students outnumbered their white counterparts. The U.S. Department of Education has projected that by 2022, non-white students will make up 54.7 percent of the public-school student population, largely due to the national increases in U.S.-born Hispanic and Asian populations.
Despite the fact that more students of color will be filling classrooms at increasing increments every school year, it’s a well reported fact that almost 80 percent of their teachers are white—and it doesn’t appear that that will change any time soon.
According to a recent study from the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank funded by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black teachers dropped from 2002 to 2012.
As the student population grows more diverse, some attention has been paid to the fact that schools, often in high-minority or urban areas, remain “separate but unequal.” Comparatively less attention is paid to the fact that as the percentage of minority students has increased, the percentage of minority teachers has consistently lagged. From the 1987-88 school year to 2012, students of color have increased by almost 17 percentage points, while the percentage of non-white teachers had only crept up by 4.9 percent. Arguably, this exponential growth of youth of color in schools, should make the need for teachers of those same backgrounds more critical, and a demand greater recognition of this lack of parity in teacher diversity.