Connecticut schools hired 1,900 educators of color in past 5 years, but state’s teacher workforce is still 90% white

Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant
·2 min read

Connecticut school districts have hired more than 1,900 educators of color over the past five years — nearly doubling a goal set by the State Board of Education to increase the number of educators who are not white by about 1,000, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said Tuesday. Still, about 90% of educators in the state are white, while almost half of Connecticut students are people of color.

In the 2016-2017 school year, 91.4% of certified, full-time staff educators in Connecticut were white, according to state Department of Education data. That percentage decreased slightly to 89.9% by the 2020-2021 school year. Currently, about 4.3% of Connecticut educators are Hispanic or Latino, about 4.1% are Black or African American, about 1.3% are Asian and about 0.1% are American Indian or Alaskan Native, according to the data. In contrast, about 45% of students in the state are people of color.

Lamont said in a statement that while the board’s goal has been met, his administration will continue working to close the gap between teachers and children so the workforce “better reflects the diversity of the students in the classroom.”

“Numerous studies have shown that students of color achieve better educational outcomes when they have teachers of color in the classroom, and as our student body becomes more diverse we should be doing everything we can to reflect that diversity among the educators who are mentoring and inspiring our next generation of young people,” Lamont said. “All students, no matter their background, benefit from having a diverse classroom experience.”

Acting Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said: “We recognize that we must continue to build upon and accelerate our efforts to cultivate and support the next generation of highly-effective and diverse aspiring educators. Diversifying our pipeline of educators and leaders for our school systems will ensure the best possible outcomes for both students and adults.”

To continue diversifying Connecticut’s educator workforce, the state said it is focusing on several strategies, such as providing ongoing support to traditional and alternative route education preparation programs and helping districts recruit, hire and retain a diverse teacher workforce. It is also working to attract and recruit candidates for the “next generation of Connecticut educators.”

Recently announced initiatives include Educators Rising, which engages high school students interested in becoming teachers, and NextGen Educators, a partnership with Central Connecticut State University that brings college students studying education into public school classrooms to help address school staffing shortages. For the 2021-2022, school year, the state said it is also working to increase the number of male educators in Connecticut.

The state legislature’s education committee raised the issue in a bill this session, prosing Connecticut further develop recruitment and retention strategies for educators of color, as well as require district staff in charge of hiring teachers to undergo implicit bias and anti-bias training.

Amanda Blanco can be reached at ablanco@courant.com.