Developing a diverse teacher workforce will require more effort at the state level

California must establish a clear vision and comprehensive action plan to recruit, prepare and sustain an educator workforce whose diversity reflects the state’s student population, but local educational agencies can’t meet this goal alone, according to a new document.

California Educator Diversity Road Map: Community-Informed Policy Strategies was developed by The Education Trust–West, Public Advocates and Californians for Justice with feedback from students, parents, educators and administrators, as well as research about educator diversity and recommendations issued by the California Department of Education’s Educator Diversity Advisory Group.

The roadmap culminates in key recommendations — particularly speaking to state leaders — to support efforts to recruit and retain more educators of color and multilingual educators, and several ways in which state and local leaders may implement them.

Among the recommendations, the roadmap calls on the state to expand support for teacher candidates of color and those who are multilingual to pursue and complete educator preparation through all pathways, traditional and alternative.

Additionally, California should “undertake a bold series of investments” to attract and retain diverse educators by increasing compensation and making it more equitable across the state by supporting teachers with higher housing, transportation and child care costs serving in the schools with higher poverty rates and “a significant mismatch between student and staff demographics,” according to the document.

“What’s different about this roadmap is that it’s calling for a stronger role for the state to play in helping to diversify the teaching profession,” Christopher J. Nellum, executive director at the Education Trust-West, said in a statement. “The state can’t pass on its responsibility in ensuring districts have sufficient resources and support to address all the things that teachers need. Continuing to attribute this as an issue of local control is part of why teachers in Oakland and across the state, for example, wind up going on strike nearly every year leading to students missing out on valuable instruction.”

Research has long shown that when students are exposed to a diverse educator workforce, their academic performance improves, they experience lower rates of chronic absenteeism and are less likely to hold implicit biases in adulthood.

Based on 2021–22 data from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, while 78 percent of students in the state are children of color, 58 percent of the educator workforce is white. Additionally, while the student population is roughly 49 percent female and 51 percent male, 73 percent of educators are female.

Amid a challenging teacher shortage, researchers noted the urgency to address the dearth of educators but concluded that it must be done thoughtfully to ensure new teachers are well-prepared, supported through retention investments and are reflective of the diversity in their classrooms.

In response to community feedback that touched on topics including grow-your-own programs and other teacher pathway opportunities, salaries and costs, barriers to earning a teaching credential, professional development and more, researchers developed six recommendations.

In addition to those listed above, recommendations call for:

  • The state to support the development of clear and accessible institutional pathways for candidates of color from diverse high schools and community colleges into the teaching profession by promoting deeper partnerships and collaboration among districts, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations.
  • The CDE to reinstitute annual tracking and reporting of educator race and ethnicity data, and the state and LEAs to publicly share and use the data to set goals and track progress to improve educator diversity.
  • LEAs to solicit the input of students and families of color in hiring and feedback processes.
  • The state and LEAs to take concrete steps to foster safer and more inclusive school and district communities.