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Degrees of Diversity

More than 80 percent of public school teachers in the U.S. are white, and a WXXI News investigation has found that the disparity is much more severe in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions. Degrees of Diversity takes an in-depth look at diversity among local teaching staffs.

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Check our map to see how diverse your district is

Click here to see all the data from Monroe County, Erie County, Onondaga County, the Finger Lakes region, and regional colleges

Low-income students of color make up the majority of classrooms in American public schools, and research shows that the challenges they face -- poverty, homelessness, or hunger -- have directly influenced their level of academic success. While many of these children are failing to make the grade, education experts say state and federal policies are failing the students. They say there’s too much of a focus on raising test scores, and that policies should be designed to close opportunity gaps and get students excited about learning.

Pedro Noguera is an internationally-recognized education scholar who studies how students are affected by a variety of social and economic factors. He’s in Rochester to give a presentation at East High School, but first, he’s our guest on Connections. We talk about how to create more equitable education opportunities for all students. In studio:

  • Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., sociologist and distinguished professor of education at UCLA
  • Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., associate professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, superintendent of East High School, and co-chair of the Greater Rochester Initiative for Children’s Social and Emotional Health Implementation Task Force

It's graduation season... so are the local graduates getting local jobs? It's the first in our series of conversations with freshly minted college graduates about their experiences navigating the job market. This week, we focus on the teaching profession. In studio:

  • James Flagler, 2017 graduate of St. John Fisher College, and substitute teacher at School 45
  • Danielle Maxwell, 2017 graduate of the College at Brockport, and soon-to-be teacher at Bicentennial North in Glendale, Arizona

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

At the Little Theatre in Rochester, teachers, superintendents, parents and school board members discussed ways to bring more diversity to local teaching staffs.

On Friday, WXXI hosted a community discussion to wrap up our week of reporting on teacher diversity. Evan Dawson reports.

Brandon White is a teacher in the Rochester City School District –

He said that for too many students of color, there are not enough mentors who look like them, and school is not a positive experience.

Jonathan Burman / NYS Education Dept.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia sat down with WXXI Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt to talk about WXXI's week-long series, Degrees of Diversity.

Find out how diverse your district is on our interactive map

It's a special broadcast live from the Little Theatre. We're capping our week-long series exploring the lack of diversity on local teaching staffs.

Our guests are a combination of teachers, administrators, parents, and school board members. Our live audience members bring their own questions based on our reporting and research. The guests:

  • Brandon White, teacher on assignment for restorative practices at Northwest Junior & Northeast Senior High Schools at the Douglass Campus
  • Kevin McGowan, superintendent of the Brighton Central School District
  • Lesli Myers, superintendent of the Brockport Central School District
  • Jeff Crane, superintendent of West Irondequoit Central School District

It's a special broadcast live from the Little Theatre. We're capping our week-long series exploring the lack of diversity on local teaching staffs.

Our guests are a combination of teachers, administrators, parents, and school board members. Our live audience members will bring their own questions based on our reporting and research. The guests:

  • Shaun Nelms, superintendent of East High School
  • Candice Hudson, teacher in the Hilton Central School District
  • Simeon Banister, parent and school board member in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District
  • Trina Newton, superintendent of the Geneva Central School District

University of Rochester

When local teaching jobs open up, superintendents say they rarely see candidates of color.  New research indicates the pipeline has leaks at almost every stage -- from high school, through college graduation and job retention.

Reporter Talks About 'Degrees of Diversity' Series

Dec 8, 2016
WXXI News

The WXXI News series, Degrees of Diversity, is the result of a year-long investigative reporting project that explores the wide gap between white teachers and teachers of color in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions and beyond.

It was reported by Connections host and reporter Evan Dawson and producer Megan Mack.

Here, WXXI’s Morning Edition host Beth Adams sits down with Dawson to talk about the series — and what prompted him to begin looking into this issue.

Megan Mack / WXXI

Christopher Fields is rare in the teaching profession. He’s an African-American man, and he teaches sixth-grade English at East Lower School. According to the U.S. Department of Education, you'd have to stop by more than 50 classrooms in this country before you found one black male teacher.

Megan Mack / WXXI

On a recent afternoon, Musette Castle was sifting through a stack of books on her dining room table: The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway; Dubliners by Joyce; Catch 22 by Heller. The books come from her grandson Louis’ high school English class reading list. Castle, who is African-American, pointed out that the authors and protagonists are almost all white.

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