Time to close Del. education diversity gap

Melva Ware and Laurisa Schutt

February is Black History Month and we’re thinking about the critical need for more diverse educators in our state. Delaware’s public school population is 45 percent African-American and Latino and 52 percent white. Teachers of color in our state have comprised 13 percent of the teacher workforce statewide for two decades.
This disparity goes far beyond optics and affects how students see themselves, what they believe is possible, and what they understand about the world outside their school buildings.
Students benefit from the insights and experiences of teachers who reflect all communities in Delaware to shape the curriculum and day-to-day experiences offered in our schools. Their pre-K though grade 12 experience must prepare them to thrive in a diverse world, and to believe amazing and unstoppable things about their potential within it. This concerns all of us.
Our students of color, particularly those growing up in low-income communities, lag behind their more affluent peers in early literacy, graduation rates, and college matriculation and completion. According to the Delaware Department of Education, African-American teens make up 44 percent of all dropouts, even though they make up 33 percent of the high school student population. African-American and Latino dropout rates outpace the state average by 20 percent.