NCSD2015: Workshop A6

Creating the Conditions to Attract and Retain Teachers of Color in Your Effort to Develop an Equitable, Multicultural Learning Community

In order to effectively educate the next generation of enlightened leaders and engaged citizens, and to move our nation toward its ideals of equity and justice, we must develop a deep understanding of our diversity issues and find ways to institutionalize our commitment to them. Such a commitment includes doing the work necessary to hire and retain an engaged, diverse teaching staff that mirrors the nation at large. The importance of this is two-fold: 1) a significant demographic gap remains between our nation’s largely white teaching force and its rapidly diversifying student population; and 2) teachers of color are a vital part of developing critical teaching practices and innovative pedagogy that can reach students in a multicultural learning community. In this session, presenters will provide a brief overview of what their research, work, and experience tells them about issues of diversity in teaching, touching on issues of recruitment and hiring practices; the importance of school culture; and retention issues. Each will offer examples of positive initiatives in district, charter, and independent schools. Structured in a conversational format, this workshop will offer plenty of time for dialogue between presenters and workshop attendees. If you are seeking to hire, support, and retain staff of color–and to create a truly multicultural learning community–this workshop is for you!


  • Dr. Terrenda WhiteAssistant Professor of Education Foundations, Policy, and Practice, University of Colorado Boulder School of Education
  • Michael BrosnanEditor, Independent School (published by the National Association of Independent Schools)

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After brief introductions by both presenters, Terrenda White reviewed social science research on why teacher diversity matters for educational equity and why it strengthens the goals of school diversity. This review included current literature on the impact of racially diverse teachers on student achievement, particularly same-race effects on a number of academic outcomes such as performance outcomes in Math and ELA, student attendance, enrollment in advanced courses, and higher rates of referral to gifted and talented programs. In addition to academic outcomes, Terrenda highlighted the moral and ethical interests for teacher diversity in a diverse nation, as well as the historic, political, and civil rights goals/concerns for both teacher and student diversity. (See Terrenda’s presentation here.) Michael Brosnan then reviewed the racial demography of students and teachers in independent schools and the general approach to teacher diversity taken by the National Association of Independent Schools. Information about the moral commitment to teacher diversity by NAIS-member schools was discussed, and Michael shared how this sector, though small, can inform public schools nationally (see ppt attached). Michael’s presentation was followed by a review of national trends in public schools, including the racial demography of students and teachers in the nation over the past twenty years. Terrenda reviewed recent data from a report released by the Shanker Institute, “The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education” and highlighted evidence that teacher shortages nationally, and the chronic under-representation of teachers of color in particular, was a function of weak retention and not weak recruitment as most reformers assume (see report attached). Terrenda reviewed survey evidence from a nationally representative sample of teachers, which noted poor working conditions and organizational characteristics of schools as responsible for nearly half of teachers’ decisions to move schools or leave teaching. These trends were consistent for teaches of color, whose turnover rates now surpass white teachers. Michael and Terrenda engaged the audience in a discussion about the particular challenges facing teachers of color, including aspects of school climate, cultural bias, and relationships with administrators, as well as issues facing all educators. Teachers and administrators shared struggles and strategies for building coalitions with parents, identifying policies that adversely affect veteran teachers of color, recruiting teachers of color to their schools as well as parents and families from diverse backgrounds.

The following information and resources about current initiatives diversity were shared (EdWeek series on improving teacher diversity, guest co-edited by Terrenda White and Travis Bristol):

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