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As students diversify in state, teacher diversity remains flat

As students diversify in state, teacher diversity remains flat

State report affirms wide teacher-student race gap
As students diversify in state, teacher diversity remains flat
Photographer: Shutterstock

ALBANY -- A presentation outlining a state Education Department report on teacher diversity affirmed that the stark gap between student and teacher diversity present in the Capital Region is prevalent across the state.

State officials on Tuesday presented key findings from the report – mandated under state legislation last year – showing that as student demographics continue to diversify, teacher diversity is failing to keep up.

Across seven Capital Region counties during the 2016-2017 school year, nearly 30 percent of students were students of color, but less than 3 percent of the region's teachers were teachers of color, according to a Daily Gazette analysis of state data.

That gap may continue to grow as student enrollments diversify more quickly than districts are hiring teachers of color, the Gazette analysis found. Between the 2000-2001 and 2016-2017 school years, the share of students of color in Capital Region schools doubled, rising from 13.8 percent to 27.8 percent. Meanwhile, the share of the region's teachers of color grew from 1.6 percent to 2.8 percent.

Many Capital Region districts, including some with hundreds of students of color, have for years only employed white teachers. During the 2016-2017 school year, nearly two dozen Capital Region district employed only white teachers, according to state data.

In most regions of the state, particularly those outside of large cities, less than 5 percent of teachers were teachers of color during the 2016-2017 school year. More than 200 districts across the state did not report employing any teachers of color that year.

“Students of color make up an increasing majority in New York state's schools, while the share of teachers who are white remains steady at 80 percent,” according to a presentation on the draft report.

While the total number of teachers of color statewide increased by nearly 1,400 since the 2011-2012 school year, growth was focused in New York City and downstate counties. The total number of teachers of color declined in the judicial district that encompasses much of the Capital Region and North Country.

White students still make up the majority of teacher education programs but the share of students of color in those programs has increased from 25 percent in 2010 to 39 percent in 2016, according to the draft report.

The state Education Department is required to submit a final report on the teacher diversity findings, which a department spokesperson said would happen soon.

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