Press Release

One-third of all New York schools have no Latino or Black teachers, new report from Ed Trust–NY reveals

 More than 115,000 Latino and Black students – 10 percent – are enrolled in schools without a single same-race/ethnicity teacher

 NEW YORK – Latino and Black students represent 43 percent of New York State’s K-12 enrollment, yet only 16 percent of the state’s teachers are Latino or Black – leaving significant numbers of students of all races/ethnicities, particularly outside of the Big 5 school districts, without access to strong and diverse educators in the classroom, according to a new report from The Education Trust–New York.

What’s more, despite research that shows a diverse teaching force benefits ALL students, nearly half of White students — or more than 560,000 — are enrolled in schools without a single Latino or Black teacher. Eighty-four percent of White students — more than 977,000 students — attend schools without a single Latino or Black principal or assistant principal.

The report, which is based on previously unpublished school-level data as well as interviews and focus groups with nearly 100 students and educators of color and other experts, builds on powerful national research that reinforces the importance of highly skilled, well-trained, and diverse educators. Studies indicate that for students of color, having a teacher of color can help improve academic performance, increase the likelihood that Black students are identified as gifted, reduce suspension rates, decrease dropout rates, and improve students’ hopes of attending college.

“New York’s educator workforce does not come close to representing the rich diversity of the state’s students, leaving many Latino and Black students without access to teachers or school leaders of the same race or ethnicity,” said Ian Rosenblum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–New York. “The critical role that strong teachers and school leaders play in student success is central to closing achievement and opportunity gaps, and New York should improve the educator preparation pipeline, strengthen supports for educators of color, and make schools more inclusive environments in order to better serve our students and educators.”

Here is what the data show:

  • More than 115,000 Latino and Black students (10 percent) attend schools with no teachers of the same race/ethnicity and an additional 80,000 Latino and Black students (7 percent) attend schools with just one teacher of the same race/ethnicity.
  • Nearly half of all White students — 48 percent, or more than 560,000 White students — are enrolled in schools without a single Latino or Black teacher. Eighty-four percent of White students — more than 977,000 students — attend schools without a single Latino or Black principal or assistant principal.
  • Latino and Black students outside of the Big 5 school districts are nearly 13 times more likely than their Big 5 peers to have no exposure to a same-race/ethnicity teacher. As a result, nearly 98,000 Latino and Black students in district-run schools outside of the Big 5 attend school without a single same-race/ethnicity teacher, compared to less than 16,000 Latino and Black students in Big 5 school districts.
  • In school districts designated as low- or average-need, the average school employs fewer than two Latino and/or Black teachers.
  • Latino and Black educators are somewhat better represented in school leadership at the principal and assistant principal levels than in the classroom — but major gaps in the pipeline exist for Latino principals in New York City and for Latino and Black principals in the rest of the state.
  • Schools with a Latino or Black principal are more likely to have a greater share of Latino and Black teachers and to have higher enrollment of students of color and low-income students.

See Our Truth is also the product of interviews and focus groups with nearly 100 students and educators of color and other experts. In these conversations, students and educators of color both told us that they see educators of color as able to establish important authentic relationships with students of color and their families, leading to higher academic expectations and deeper student engagement. Yet the educators report that these relationships can also have negative professional repercussions — potentially limiting them to disciplinarian roles or to bridging cultural gaps for colleagues. Educators of color told us they face unique career challenges due to prejudice that take a heavy emotional toll on their well-being, and that they, like many teachers, are frustrated by an educational system that does not put students first. Specifically, they frequently mentioned the need for culturally responsive curricula and teaching strategies.

There are immediate steps that state leaders can take to improve teacher and school leader diversity and strengthen public education in New York, including:

  • Strengthening the educator preparation pipeline for future teachers and school leaders of color
  • Improving recruitment and hiring at the school district level
  • Focusing greater attention on retention, support, and career advancement for educators of color

The full See Our Truth report highlights specific programs aligned with each of these recommendations. Visit seeourtruth.org to explore data for school districts across New York. Regional summaries for the state’s largest counties are also available at edtrustny.org.