July 12, 2012
Written By Hope Gillette
For decades, the presence of teachers representing minority groups has been sorely lacking in the education system in the United States. That’s the conclusion offered by a report from a study by Education Week and Flora Family Foundation, that explored data from 1980-2009 taken from a U.S. Department of Education national survey of teachers and school administrators.
Researchers found a significant gap between the number of minority students and the number of minority teachers. During one test year, the percentage of children in school representing minorities was 41 percent, but only 16.5 percent of educators were from a minority demographic.
According to experts, minority teachers are important in the education system; parents of minority children often feel more comfortable discussing school issues with a teacher from similar heritage, and a diverse teacher population ensures children from all races have a supply of role models.
Research suggests that access to minority teachers may increase attendance, lead to higher test scores, and decrease the number of suspensions in the system.
As one of the fastest growing minorities, Hispanics are a prime example of the education gap. Latino children enrolled in school have far surpassed the number of Latino teachers available. The gap was recognized in the 1990s, when the Exxon Education Foundation revealed 11.8 percent of students were Hispanic and only 3.7 percent of teachers shared that heritage. More recent numbers indicate 21 percent of students are Hispanic compared to 7 percent of Hispanic teachers.