Policy brief calls for increased attraction, retention of teachers of color in Illinois


Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang

Dawes Elementary School, 440 Dodge Ave. A new policy brief recommended ways to attract and retain teachers of color.

Julia Esparza, City Editor

Teachers with Teach Plus, a teacher leadership organization, issued a policy brief Thursday that offered recommendations for attracting, retaining and developing teachers of color in Illinois.

The brief, titled “Equity and Diversity by Design: Recommendations on Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Illinois,” addressed the lack of diversity in the Illinois’ teaching force. It called for specialized supports, equitable access to leadership opportunities, adequate compensation and the need for identity-based literacy in Illinois’ K-12 institutions, according to a news release from the organization.

“While the Illinois student population has become more racially and linguistically diverse, the Illinois teaching force has not reflected this growing diversity,” the brief read.

The brief said that students of color made up 52 percent of Illinois’ student population in 2017 while teachers of color made up only 14 percent of the teaching population. The brief said having more teachers of color in these diverse classrooms have shown an increase student engagement among students of color.

Fellows with Teach Plus conducted focus groups with Illinois’ teachers of color in the fall of 2018 that sought to understand why they are leaving the profession at higher rates than their white counterparts.

Keisha Rembert, a middle school teacher in Naperville, Illinois, co-authored the brief and said that a common problem teachers expressed is that they feel “overlooked, overworked, and undervalued,” according to the release.

In response to these sentiments, the brief recommends the implementation of mentorship programs, diversity dialogues and affinity groups that support teachers of color. It also asks for leadership stipends, in-house leadership programs, and ongoing bias and critical race theory training for school administrators.

“Through our research, we zeroed in on viable solutions to ensure teachers of color enter and
stay in the profession to benefit Illinois students and teachers alike,” said Corey Winchester, a teacher at Evanston Township High School and another of the brief’s co-authors.

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Twitter: @juliaesparza10

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