Representation Matters

New York State is home to one of the most diverse student populations in the country.

Yet the makeup of the state’s teacher workforce falls far short in representing the rich diversity of its students, leaving many students of color without access to teachers of the same race or ethnicity as them.

Despite bodies of research that show access to diverse teachers is important for all students and efforts to improve diversity across the state, this new analysis shows that between the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 school years New York failed to move the needle in cultivating a more diverse teacher workforce. 

Celebrating progress on educator diversity in New York State

Although there remains work to enhance educator diversity in New York, it is crucial to acknowledge and draw lessons from the progress made across the state in offering increased opportunities for teachers and school leaders from diverse backgrounds.

Our latest report on educator diversity draws lessons from how the New York State Education Department (NYSED), local school districts, institutions of higher education, schools, and advocates are working toward improving educator diversity and retaining teachers of color.

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

Educator Diversity Playbook

Across New York State there are school districts working hard to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for educators and students alike. Here are 5 steps every New York school district can take to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Seeking Solutions

There are immediate steps that state leaders can take to improve teacher and school leader diversity and strengthen public education in New York. And some of the best potential solutions are already being implemented in districts and colleges across the state. Read more about our recommendations for action steps.
Strengthen the educator preparation pipeline for future teachers and school leaders of color by:
Requiring diversity data collection, use, and transparency for teacher preparation programs; 
Requiring teacher preparation programs to improve diversity and strengthen program components that prepare all teaching and administrator candidates to educate all groups of students; 
Expanding the Teacher Opportunity Corps grant program, which recruits and supports historically underrepresented and low-income teaching candidates; 
Strengthening relationships between school districts and teacher preparation programs, including through the expansion of “Grow Your Own” initiatives; 
Expanding career pathways through targeted strategies and innovative alternative certification pilots; and 
Encouraging “quality sustained clinical practices” — including residency programs and other field work — that provide opportunities for teaching candidates to gain intensive, structured classroom experience

Read more about these recommendations in the full Representation Matters report

Improve recruitment and hiring at the state and school district level by:
Collecting and using data to examine school district recruitment, interview, and hiring practices; 
Providing state-level oversight and transparency; 
Aligning state-level teacher and student race data categories so that we can better understand how well students are represented by the teachers at their schools, for example by amending the multiracial option in student data systems and/or the “decline to state” option in teacher data systems; 
Encouraging school boards to signal and embrace the importance of teacher and school leader diversity; 
Questioning and changing recruitment practices to identify additional qualified applicants of color; and 
Addressing implicit bias in the hiring process. 
Focusing greater attention on retention, support, and career advancement for teachers of color by: 
Improving the working environment for teachers of color; 
Creating and supporting cohorts of teachers, assistant principals, and principals of color; 
Investing in mentorship and career ladders for current and aspiring teacher, school, and district leaders; and 
Building upon the investments allocated to the NYS Department of Labor through the Empire State Teacher Residency Program by setting specific diversity targets and publicly sharing annual data about the diversity of program participants, the rate of successful classroom placements, and retention rates of program alumni; and 

Student Voice: A Natural Connection

“I know that if I say something about the experience I have as a Black male he will understand me.”

-Wesley, student, Amityville

More than 115,000 Latinx and Black students attend schools with no teachers of the same race or ethnicity and an additional 80,000 Latinx and Black students attend schools with just one teacher of the same race or ethnicity.

A Teacher’s Perspective: Why I Teach

There is this thing, this feeling that students get when they realize that they are part of something bigger, grander.

-Mary Gilbert, Rochester

Educators of color face distinct barriers to access and opportunity in their profession. Yet they work to navigate those challenges, staying focused on their students.