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Report: Wisconsin has student-to-teacher racial, ethnic gap

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 19:21:52-04

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A gap between the percentage of teachers of color and the percentage of students of color in Wisconsin grew over the last 10 years as student diversity increased, according to a report released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The state’s teacher workforce has remained overwhelmingly white, according to the study, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. During the last decade, the number of students of color in public schools increased by 28%, while the number of teachers of color increased by just 22.5%, the study found.

Anne Chapman, the Wisconsin Policy Forum researcher who authored the report, said that pattern holds true for rural areas, suburban districts and towns, as well as the state’s larger cities.

The gap between the demographics of students and their teachers vary by district, as well as by race. Black students make up just over 9% of K-12 students, compared with about 2% of teachers. Both the population of Latino teachers and students over the past decade has doubled, but the gap between them widened each year — with Latinos currently making up 12.3% of students, and 2% of teachers.

Chapman pointed to research that shows that having a more diverse teaching and administrative staff is good not just for Black and brown students, but also for white students.

“It is important for white children to see people of color as being knowledgeable and authoritative,” said Gloria Ladson-Billings, a teacher educator who most recently was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The stuff we are seeing happening in our streets today is, I think, a direct result of young white people saying, ‘I was never really taught to value these people’s lives.’”

Chapman said subsequent reports will dig deeper into the reasons for the persistent racial gap between student and teacher populations.