By fall, a majority of public school students will be non-white, while more than four in five teachers are white.
Of 3.3 million public school teachers in 2012, 82 percent were white, 8 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were black and about 2 percent were Asian, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
This year, 48 percent of the students in public schools are nonwhite — 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent black and 5 percent Asian — and that percentage is increasing.
It’s not clear that minority students learn more from same-race or same-ethnicity teachers.
Schools with low-income, non-white, high-need students have trouble recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers, writes James Marshall Crotty in Forbes. “It is dispiriting to try to teach young people who do not want to be there.”
He recommends paying “the best teachers a dramatically increased salary to take the most difficult assignments, including teaching in schools with a high percentage of special needs students or where the learning culture is weak.”
Elevating the status of the teaching profession by raising quality and admissions standards would attract better teachers, Crotty argues.
Finally, volunteer mentors — ideally retired teachers — could observe novice teachers for their first year in the classroom in an apprentice-master model.