(CNSNews.com) – Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that public elementary and secondary school teachers are far less racially and ethnically diverse than their students, the Pew Research Center reported.
For instance, “racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 20% of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States during the 2015-16 school year,” reported Pew.
However, in the same school year, “51% of all public elementary and secondary school students were nonwhite” and “39% of all Americans were racial or ethnic minorities that year.”
As a result, there is a significant disparity between minority teachers and minority students in public schools.
(In the research “nonwhite” includes blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, as well as individuals of two or more races.)
Pew further reported that “younger Americans are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older people,” and that “growth in racial and ethnic diversity has been much faster among U.S. students than among both teachers and principals in recent years.”
The percentage of nonwhite teachers has increased from 13% in the 1987-88 school year, mostly due to growth in the percentage of Hispanic and Asian teachers, according to the NCES data.
“Since then, the number of Hispanic teachers increased about fivefold,” said Pew. “Between 1987-88 and 2015-16, the number of Asian teachers roughly quadrupled, from 21,000 to 86,000.”
Pew also pointed out that the racial and ethnic makeup of America’s public schools reflects the racial and ethnic composition of the country’s larger communities.
“For example, 31% of teachers in city schools were nonwhite, versus just 11% of teachers in rural schools,” said Pew.
Schools with higher percentages of nonwhite teachers also had higher percentages of nonwhite students, and vice versa.
“Nonwhites made up 55% of teachers in schools where at least 90% of students were nonwhite,” according to Pew. “By comparison, across schools where at least 90% of students were white, nearly all teachers (98%) also were white.”
In a separate report, the Brookings Institute argued that students would benefit from increased diversity among teachers. “In our view, informed by both evidence and values, teachers of color should be more evenly distributed across schools,” said the think tank.