The voice of California’s charter school movement

Teacher Diversity in Public Schools: Fact or Fiction?

By Vanessa Alessi

After a recent report found that the number of teachers in public schools has more than doubled over the last three decades, took a deeper look at what it found to be a rosier than likely picture of the state of teacher diversity.
Looking at the numbers a little more closely, Chalkbeat found that in 1987, about 87 percent of public school teachers were white. In the 2015-16 school year, just over 80 percent of teachers were white. During that same time period, the raw number of teachers of color went from 305,000 out of well over 2 million teachers to about 760,000 out of nearly 4 million teachers.

So while the numbers of teachers increased by 150 percent in nearly three decades, it is also true that the share of teachers of color has increased by only 7 percent during that same time period.

This puts the state of teacher diversity under vastly different lights.

Looking at the raw numbers, also found that while black teachers have increased from 191,000 to 256,000 between 1987 – 2015, the share of teachers who are black has actually declined – from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent.  This is especially alarming as research continues to prove the impact that black teachers have on black students, including their likeliness to attend college.


Have you been impacted by a teacher of color at your school? We’d love to hear from you! Send us your stories using #DiversityInLearning on social media or emailing us at

Are you interested in becoming a teacher of color to help us battle these statistics?  Take a look at our Diversity in Leadership program, designed to eliminate the diversity gap between students and school leaders in California by increasing the talent pipeline of African American and Latino leaders in charter schools, and creating avenues for leadership development, school growth, funding, and advocacy.