Giving Compass' Take:

• Adeshina Emmanuel reports that Chicago Public Schools is working to increase its teacher diversity and retention to better serve its diverse student body. 

• How can funders help the district accomplish its goals? Where else is this type of program needed? 

• Learn more about the importance of diverse teaching staff

In Chicago Public Schools, where 9 in 10 are students of color, 52 percent of teachers are white. Chicago’s teaching ranks — which are 19 percent Latino and 21 percent black — are the most diverse among the state’s 10 biggest school districts, but they still have a long way to go for faculty to better match up to students.

The district touts several tactics for boosting the number of Latino and black teachers. Chief among them is a teacher residency program launched last year with National Louis University and Relay Chicago that recruits heavily from paraprofessionals — who tend to be a more diverse group than new teacher candidates. The district also is relaunching teaching academies at high schools that prepare students to pursue an education degree.

It’s looking to private partnerships, too, by contracting with nonprofits such as Golden Apple and Grow Your Own Illinois to help build a pipeline of teacher candidates of color.

Robert Muller, dean of the National College of Education at National Louis University, has sought to help the school district diversify its student body in part by helping train teacher aides and paraprofessionals to become teachers. But, he said, the pipeline needs work.

“I would hypothesize we have a pipeline that is leaky in a bunch of different places,” he said. “It’s not just getting folks in the pipeline but keeping them there.”

Working harder to retain teachers in their early years by providing more mentoring and support and improving work conditions would both reduce the teacher shortage and increase diversity, Muller said.

The state board of education is working with other states to diversify teacher demographics and ensure teachers of all races practices culturally responsive teaching, according to spokeswoman Matthews. She also said the state assists teacher prep programs in developing recruitment and retention plans for diverse educators.

This month the state approved to fortify and broaden its teaching workforce, by stepping up mentoring, creating more paths to a credential and eliminating a basic-skills test for mid-career candidates.

Read the full article about increasing teacher diversity and retention by Adeshina Emmanuel at Chalkbeat.