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The diversity gap for public school teachers is actually growing across generations

By Michael Hansen & Diana Quintero ~ Brookings ~

The public teacher workforce has been slowly growing more racially diverse over the last three decades. A notable study from Richard Ingersoll and Lisa Merrill finds the number of teachers of color more than doubled between 1987 and 2012, resulting in the share of nonwhite teachers in America’s public schools expanding from 12 to 17 percent over that same period. More current survey results from 2016 show the share of nonwhite teachers has jumped even higher, nearing 20 percent.

These rather encouraging trend lines may lead observers to conclude that public schools are successfully attracting an increasingly larger share of people of color into the teaching profession—whatever we’re doing, we’re moving in the right direction. And though this conclusion seems reasonable, it runs counter to what the underlying data tells us about racial underrepresentation among the teacher workforce.

In this installment of our ongoing teacher diversity series, we examine the racial diversity of the teacher workforce looking across different generations of teachers.

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