New analysis shows work needed to promote educator diversity in California

Widely known as one of America’s most diverse states, California’s teachers do not accurately reflect its students, and just over 9 percent of the state’s schools had no teachers of color in 2018–19, according to The Education Trust’s analysis of Department of Education data.

The “Is Your State Prioritizing Teacher Diversity and Equity?” tool includes national and state data and can be used to review a state’s educator diversity data and policy, compare states’ profiles and find promising policy practices. Nationally, 47.2 percent of the student population were students of color while 18.5 percent of teachers were teachers of color. Students and teachers of color are defined as those who are Black, Latino, multiracial, Native or Pacific Islander.

Research shows having racially and culturally diverse teachers is beneficial to pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade learners, specifically students of color, who thrive in classrooms led by individuals who share their background.

“Unfortunately, the diversity of the national public school teacher workforce does not reflect the diversity of the student population — the majority of which are of color,” the organization states. “For many states, the lack of diversity means that most of its students attend schools and districts that do not have a single teacher of color on staff.”

California demographics

2018–19 state data shows that 54.9 percent of students and 21.3 percent of teachers were Latino; 9.4 percent of students and 5.8 percent of teachers were Asian; 5.4 percent of students and 3.8 percent of teachers were Black; and 3.6 percent of students and 1 percent of teachers were multiracial. While 22.6 percent of students were white, 60.9 percent of teachers were.

To increase diversity in the field, states need to create policy conditions that support educator preparation programs, districts and schools in their efforts to prepare, recruit and retain teachers of color, according to researchers.

Measuring progress toward fostering those conditions, California does not meet Education Trust criteria for making educator diversity data visible and actionable to stakeholders, including reporting annually the racial makeup of teacher candidates and sharing school-level information on retention rates of educators of color. The state also does not meet the policy recommendation of setting clear goals at the state and district level to increase student access to diverse educators.

The state partially meets progress toward investing in educator preparation programs to increase enrollment and improving the preparation of teachers of color and investing in efforts to retain teachers of color, including improving working conditions and providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The state does meet the criteria for targeting resources to districts and schools to support efforts to intentionally recruit and hire a diverse teaching workforce.

Also included in the report is data on teacher diversity at the state level and for the three largest school districts: Los Angeles, Fresno and San Diego.

Just released 2019-20 data was presented at the April 15 California Commission on Teacher Credentialing meeting. A summary of the meeting will be posted on Monday.