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California schools are gearing up again to entice teachers of color, especially Hispanics, to join the workforce. A report released Tuesday, on the 50th anniversary of the East Los Angeles walkouts for Latinos demanding better education, stated schools were woefully lacking in diversity between its students and instructors.
The report, Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students, and Our Economy, claims that 69% of the state’s college students are diverse while more than 60% of faculty and leadership and 75% of academic senators are white.
The L.A. Times reported that California universities faces a “drastic disparity” between students and faculty:
“Our public colleges and universities have to do more than communicate that they ‘value’ diversity while tolerating its absence,” Michele Siqueiros, the nonprofit’s president, said in a statement. “We can no longer accept excuses that leave out African Americans, Latinx, Asians and women from faculty and leadership positions in our colleges and universities, especially when we know including them on our campuses is key to our students’ success.”
On March 8, 2016, Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. spoke at Howard University addressing this matter:
“Without question, when the majority of students in public schools are students of color and only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, we have an urgent need to act. We’ve got to understand that all students benefit from teacher diversity. We have strong evidence that students of color benefit from having teachers and leaders who look like them as role models and also benefit from the classroom dynamics that diversity creates. But it is also important for our white students to see teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities.”
We are already aware of the reasons given to explain the lack of minorities in education and professional fields: Low income, culture gap, etc. Now let’s flip the coin and look at some of the other explanations that attribute to low numbers of Hispanics in teaching professions.
California has the highest population of Hispanics in the nation. It also has one of the highest count of illegal immigrants. So, why aren’t more students of color going into the education field?
A 2007 report on Hispanics in the teaching profession said as other professional options opened up, more Latinos “defected in large numbers to other professional fields.” For instance, the study said Hispanics receiving bachelor’s degrees in education dropped by 19% during 1976 and 1989. However, bachelor’s degrees in business during the same timeframe rose by 183%, 192% in engineering, and 53% in health professions.
Could one of the biggest contributors simply be that Hispanics are not as interested in teaching as whites? When you consider a teacher’s average salary, it makes even more since to go into business or engineering rather than teaching.
In California, the average beginning salary for teachers is less than $50,00 per year. Currently, teachers with tenure are making just under $80,000 per year. Now, when you consider the cost of living in the larger cities, $80,000 a year just won’t cut it, considering that the “average rent on a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $4,650.”
But, this doesn’t count the rural and poor areas of the state where income is dramatically lower, and where much of the Hispanic population resides.
Statistically, it’s not that Hispanics are less educated; rather, more of them are choosing higher paying careers than education. Let’s face it: Teaching is, for the most part, not a high paying job. As most will tell you, “you’ve got to love what you do” to become one.