When the number of non-white public school students surpassed white students for the first time last year, it made headlines across the country. But few people asked the next natural question: How many people of color run these schools? The answer is, not many.
Though ethnic minorities make up more than 50 percent of public-school classrooms, only about 6 percent of school superintendents are not white, according to The School Superintendents Association. That number has hardly budged in recent years, increasing only one percent between 2000 and 2010.
Closing that gap is crucial to improving educational outcomes for students of color, says Dan Domenech, executive director of The School Superintendents Association.
"We are nowhere near representing the population that is in our schools," Domenech says. "These students need role models. When they see a brown or black face walk into their classroom, especially as the superintendent, they think 'wow, that could be me.'"
The problem really comes down to graduation rates, Domenech says. Latinos and blacks are the least likely to graduate from high school, the least likely to go to college, and the least likely to finish their degree—and those who do probably don't want to take a low-paying job as a teacher, Domenech says.