The future hasn’t been written yet, what story will you tell?

By Sophia Gerner
February 21, 2022

Photo by Alliance for Excellent Education from Flickr

Imagine walking into a school where not one teacher looks like you do. This is the sad reality that many students face in our school every day. 

Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Pennsylvania found that “only 4 percent of Pennsylvania’s teachers are people of color,” making this the lowest in the nation. A 2019-2020 report also found that out of 119,966 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, only one percent are Asian, four percent are black, one percent are Hispanic and 94 percent are white.

The 2019-2020 report also stated that 50 percent of Pennsylvania’s public schools and 37 percent of all school districts only employed white teachers. This percentage is taken from 138 school districts and 1,078 of Pennsylvania’s public school’s that have zero teachers of color over any of the last seven school years. Pennsylvania has one of the highest disparities between students and teachers of color in the nation. 

Without equal representation throughout a school and classroom, how are students supposed to envision themselves accomplishing all of their dreams?

Not only does it affect how students see themselves, but the lack of diverse educators also reflects a lack of urgency among those hiring who fail to see the importance of keeping diversity in mind and how a diverse staff can lead to many other positive impacts. According to Research for Action, teachers of color have been shown to:

  • Promote higher expectations for students of color
  • Contribute to positive outcomes for students of color inside and outside of school
  • Decrease the chances that students of color face discipline that gets them removed from school
  • Lead to long-term positive outcomes and lower dropout rates
  • Limit bias in all students 
  • Improve school atmospheres

Hiring with diversity in mind needs to be of the utmost importance in order to ensure student success. Many students find school not enjoyable for these very reasons and it’s up to the schools’ administration to stop this recurring issue. 

Before we even begin to think about ways to solve this problem, we need to become educated on how this not only affects students, but also why it is an important concern to be addressed. After this we are able to solve this problem through creating financial encouragement for students of color to enroll in teacher programs that have developed diversity standards, set diversity goals and intentionally seek out diverse candidates and create more teacher programs where student teachers work with mentors for a school-year while working towards their degree.

According to Research for Action, these programs could be part of a solution to help construct more diversity in the teaching workforce.

Now imagine a school where any singular person of any background can walk into a school and be represented throughout the classrooms. Students can walk through this building and look up at the teachers, staff and administration with a sense of belonging and a sense of hope that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.  

The future is never set in stone and can be altered by enacting change and initiating more diverse hirings amongst the education system. We hold the power in our hands; what we do with it is up to us. 

The statistics don’t lie.

 

Sophia Gerner

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