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

Reporter Talks About 'Degrees of Diversity' Series

Dec 8, 2016

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.

Megan Mack / WXXI

In Monroe County and the Finger Lakes, thousands of students could graduate high school without ever seeing a black teacher in their school hallways.

A year-long WXXI News investigation found that five districts in Monroe County don’t employ a single black teacher in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the numbers from the 2015-16 school year. Four districts have only one.

See how diverse your district is, or compare it to other districts using our interactive map below. If the map below is too small for you to see, click here to see a larger map.

All data is from the 2015-16 school year. 

In addition to our own research, WXXI News has been referring to numerous previous studies and research initiatives regarding teacher diversity and the impact on students. Here’s a list of some of that research.

Be Part of a Special Live 'Connections' on Friday

Nov 27, 2016

Connections with Evan Dawson will broadcast live from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, from the Little Theatre, 240 East Ave., as part of WXXI News' Degrees of Diversity, a weeklong series reporting on the state of diversity among teaching staffs in the area.

In the United States, more than 80 percent of public school teachers are white — and a WXXI News investigation has found that the disparity is much more severe in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions.

Future ‘Degrees of Diversity’ Coverage Planned

Nov 27, 2016

This special project, "Degrees of Diversity," uses multimedia to cover the issue of teacher diversity in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions.

Even once the series ends, look for additional and follow-up coverage: