In Fall 2015, the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI) issued a 126 page, in-depth document reviewing the current state of diversity in the American teaching workforce. In doing so, the Shanker Institute tracked specific programs, including the Boston Teacher Residency, and the minority teacher workforce within nine cities: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  Each program was closely studied for its efforts to recruit, train and retain teacher of color.

In the report, ASI found that minority teachers were more motivated to work with disadvantaged minority students in high poverty and/or racially and ethnically segregated schools. Further, their research showed that minority teachers had higher expectation of minority students and were more often considered role models to students.  This might be attributed to the formation of what the researchers called the “warm demander” relationship between teachers and students – one where high expectations are seen as a natural byproduct of respect.

The ASI’s research showed that the U.S.’s minority teacher population grew modestly from 1987 – 2012 and increased from 12 to 17 percent during the 25-year span.  ASI found that within the nine cities studied in the report, the number of black teachers in the workforce declined, with seniority-based lay-offs playing little to no role in the population reduction.  Contrastingly, it found that the Hispanic teacher population remained stable or showed modest growth, with the number of Hispanic teachers in Los Angeles growing markedly in recent years. The report is clear to note, however, that since the Hispanic student population is the fastest growing share of American students, substantial growth of the Hispanic teaching force is required to narrow the student to teacher representation gap. While a high attrition rate of minority teachers is one of the major obstacles to achieving a diverse workforce, the report was clear that underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic new hires is a continuing serious problem. Overall, the ASI suggests that positive experiences with a variety of races and ethnic groups can reduce stereotyping and increase social bonding in schools.

In taking a closer look at individual programs’ hiring practices, the ASI focused on BTR, a residency that was formed to address three challenges: 1) a shortage of STEM and ESL teachers within Boston Public Schools; 2) difficulty recruiting and retaining minority teachers; and 3) a three-year turnover rate of 50 percent for new teachers.  BTR has worked to overcome these challenges, and ASI reports that more than half of BTR’s secondary teachers teach math and science. While all BTR teachers are prepared to teach students with disabilities and English Language Learners, at least 40 percent of BTR graduates teach in one of these areas. Seventy-seven percent of all BTR graduates continue to teach in the Boston public school district. Half of BTR’s graduates are minorities and BTR is committed to ensuring that 50 percent of each of its cohorts are people of color. Among minority teachers, 85 percent stay with the district for three or more years.

Beyond these specific programmatic observations, the ASI makes several policy recommendations at the federal, state and district levels. Major themes throughout the policy recommendations include the need for transparent, accurate data that measures ethnic and racial demographics and the responsibility of government actors to make such data available to the public. It also suggests that policymakers at all levels of government should invest and support in the establishment of recruitment, hiring and retention practices that will encourage the growth of the minority teaching population.  Ideas for such policy include, but are not limited to, investment in, and school district partnerships with, high quality teacher education programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), as well as at public colleges and universities supporting large numbers of minority students.