Virginia's Fairfax school district doubles down on diversifying teaching staff
- Virginia's Fairfax County school district is stepping up efforts to recruit a more diverse teaching population to reflect a student population that is 60% students of color, The Washington Post reports.
- Among their efforts to raise the percentage of teachers of color beyond 18% are two recruiting trips to Puerto Rico in recent years and higher involvement in career fairs at colleges and universities primarily serving students of color.
- A George Mason University study published by the Harvard Educational Review led The Washington Post to request teacher demographic data from the district after current and former school officials confirmed that Fairfax County, the state's largest district, was the unidentified subject of research that alleged black teaching applicants had been discriminated against.
As The Post notes, the demographics of students nationwide have shifted significantly in recent years, with National Center for Education Statistics data showing the percentage of white students dropping from 70% to 51% between the mid-1980s and the 2011-12 school year.
Additionally, research in recent years has shown that students of color benefit from seeing role models who look like them — even if they're not directly taught by them. But the problem requires more than just a cosmetic solution: Educators must also address their own personal biases, whether they realize they have them or not, before they can benefit all of their students.
As Dr. Chris Emdin, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, told us in 2016, "Every single person comes into social spaces with biases, and they're birthed out of stories that you've heard, experiences you may have had and, especially in a media-saturated society, perceptions of other are sort of imbibed and ascribed to us by stories in the media."
- The Washington Post Diverse Virginia school district makes push for more teachers of color
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