The Center for American Progress has released a new study showing a massive “diversity gap” in America’s public schools.
According to the partisan leftist public policy research and advocacy organization, just 18 percent of America’s teachers at public elementary and secondary schools are nonwhite. Meanwhile, almost half the students who attend these schools represent minorities (defined in the study as black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American).
As of 2013, almost half of America’s overwhelmingly white population of teachers belongs to unions, according to Education Intelligence Agency.
Several states that rank in the bottom half of the Center for American Progress’s Diversity Index also rank among the highest in teachers union strength. For example, California ranks dead last in teacher diversity. Almost three-quarters of California’s students are nonwhite while under 30 percent of its teachers are nonwhite. However, The Golden State is the state ranked sixth-highest for teachers union strength, according to a 2012 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Similarly, New York, Illinois, New York and Rhode Island all rank in the bottom half of the teacher diversity study but in the top tier for teachers union strength.
This correlation is not ironclad. Others states including Oregon and Pennsylvania rank — barely — in the top half of the Teacher Diversity Index and in the top tier for teachers union strength.
In its report released with the study, the Center for American Progress has also come out as a big proponent of a strange sort of separate-but-equal education for minority students.
The advocacy group’s analysis flatly declares that minority students tend to perform better in academic atmospheres in which teachers are also minorities.
“Minority students benefit from being taught by minority teachers, because minority teachers are likely to have ‘insider knowledge’ due to similar life experiences and cultural backgrounds,” the study quotes education professors Richard Ingersoll and Henry May as arguing.
The study additionally suggests that all students and communities in general would be better off if students have a chance to interact with teachers from minority groups.
The Center for American Progress study suggests a few causes for the highly white demographic state of America’s 3.3 million teachers. Market forces play a role, the study proposes. Also, minority students lag in high school and college graduation rates. Further, teacher demographics change slowly as a matter of course because teachers of all skin colors and ethnic backgrounds tend to stay in the profession for decades.
In order to add more minority teachers around the country, the progressive group recommends federal programs to fund financial aid programs for low-income students who will commit to entering teacher education programs. Another suggestion is increasing the number of grassroots mentorship programs designed to support minority students.