WXXI AM News

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

When you were in school, did you learn about redlining? Did you learn about our American history of housing discrimination, and how deeply it hurt people and families of color? Many schools still don't teach this.

A local teacher recently wrote to Connections, saying, "Frankly I don't think people know the history of segregation in Rochester from redlining, to zoning codes, to housing covenants, to the (1975 U.S. Supreme Court’s 5 – 4 decision) in favor of Penfield's blatantly discriminatory housing policies in Warth v Seldin."  This teacher decided to create a unit for his students to explain it.

We sit down with Shane Wiegand, a Rush-Henrietta teacher, about how he teaches this subject, and how his students of all backgrounds react to it.

You can view Wiegand's slide presentation for his students on Redlining and the Great Migration, 1910-1970, here.

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.

Megan Mack / WXXI

A WXXI News investigation finds that local districts have a severe lack of diversity on teaching staffs. Five public school districts have zero African-American teachers on staff; four districts have just one, according to the numbers from the 2015-16 school year.

Candice Hudson is the only African-American teacher in the Hilton school district. All 393 of her colleagues are white. We visited Hudson to find her reading to her elementary school students; she teaches English as a New Language for grades three through six.

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