- Chicago's teacher workforce is half white while the population they teach is 89% students of color. In six years, the city has lost 25% of its black teachers, an attrition rate higher than that of other races, Chalkbeat reports.
- Contributing to this problem were layoffs in 2011 that let go of a disproportionate number of black teachers who mostly taught at "turnaround" schools.
- Data also indicates the city’s teachers are growing younger and whiter as older black teachers retire. In addition, the union says black teachers are at a disadvantage when it comes to teacher evaluations.
Diversifying Chicago's teacher workforce could begin with strengthening efforts to retain the African American teachers it already has. One way it's doing that is by launching teacher-support initiatives such as a residency program that provides mentors and pays for graduate education.
As the district continues its efforts to diversify its teaching staff, it is also considering ways to recruit more African American educators. Building a more diversified workforce means offering higher compensation, alternative pathways to teaching, and developing partnerships with historically black universities. It also means honoring these educators' talents and giving them the opportunity to do more than teach medial classes and serve as language translators.
Districts around the country face the same struggle attracting and retaining black teachers.
An Annenberg Institute at Brown University paper finds having a black principal increases the odds of hiring black teachers by 7%. It also increases the chance of retaining those hires. Black principals are able to diversify staff by drawing from different talent pool networks. Black teachers are also more likely to work for a black principal, and, conversely, a black principal is more likely to hire them.
The lack of potential teachers is a problem than spans all races. In 2015, Condition of Future Educators found only 4% of high school graduates who took the ACT planned to become a teacher. In 2010, the number was 7%, and in 2000 it was 11%. Students of color were even less likely to be attracted to the field of education.