U.S. classrooms are more diverse than ever. The teacher's lounge is not.

  • by:
  • Source: USA TODAY
  • 05/17/2024
Middle school educator Jeffrey Lee is the only Black male English teacher at his school, which serves about 815 students northwest of Philadelphia.

"It can be a lonely existence. I almost feel like the last dinosaur that roamed the Earth," Lee said. "I have students say, 'You’re the first African American or male teacher of color' they’ve ever had."

Seventy years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in public schools, Lee's story illustrates a lingering imbalance at schools nationwide: Students of color now make up more than half of America's students, but the number of teachers and principals of color has not kept apace.

An analysis of state-by-state data from The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit organization working to redesign education to meet the needs of students of color and students living in poverty, shows that across a majority of U.S. campuses, nearly one-fourth of public schools did not have an educator of color on staff. Meanwhile, students of color were the majority at public schools.

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