Virginia School District Trying to Diversify Teaching Staff

After a recent study showed that Fairfax County School District in Virginia hires more white teachers than teachers of color, the district is aiming to improve its recruitment and hiring methods.

The study showed that black applicants had more advanced degrees than white applicants, but they had lower pass rates on a screening test. Although 60% of students enrolled this past school year were students of color, only about 18% of the school’s teaching staff were teachers of color.

District officials say they are trying to diversify by utilizing recruiting and hiring practices aimed at pursuing a more racially diverse teaching staff.

Recruiters have taken two trips to Puerto Rico over the past two years and have participated in job fairs that were hosted by institutions that serve people of color. Additionally, the district plans to focus on retaining teachers of color and mandating that a minimum number of candidates be interviewed for each teaching position.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that while the extra focus has helped, the school system is committed to continuing the diversification its staff.

“We need to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our students,” he said. “The reality is that our work around hiring teachers of color is improving but it’s still not where we want it to be.”

However, the Northern Virginia school system is not the only district struggling with teacher diversity issues. But since making a school’s identity multinational can assist students in the globalization of today’s society, the student population throughout the country has increasingly diversified over the past three decades.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the proportion of white K-12 students in public schools dropped from 70% in the mid-1980s to 51% in 2011. During the same time period, the number of teachers of color increased only from 13% to 18%.

Sean Perryman, education chairman of Fairfax County’s chapter of the NAACP, said he’s aware of the school district’s increased recruiting efforts, but he acknowledged that those strategies don’t necessarily address the underlying problem of black applicants not being hired at the same rate as white applicants.

“It’s not a supply problem,” Perryman explained. “It’s a demand problem.”

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