Report: DCPS teacher workforce is less diverse than its student body

Research also shows schools with more students from low-income families experience higher teacher turnover

New research is looking at why Duval County's teachers leave the district, or the profession entirely. It's also revealing disparities in the racial make-up of the district's teachers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A report compiled by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund shows the teacher workforce in Duval County Public Schools does not reflect the same diversity as the student body.

The report, released by JPEF Tuesday, shows two-thirds of DCPS teachers are white, while white students make up only one-third of the district’s enrollment. It also shows 29% of teachers identify as Black -- compared to 45% of students in the district identifying as such. Less than 6% of DCPS teachers are Black men.

This graph was included as part of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's Winter 2021 report 'Understanding Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Duval County.' (Jacksonville Public Education Fund)

The district’s diversity among principals stood out, with more than half (55%) identifying as Black.

The organization cited a nationwide research study that found low-income Black male students were 39% more likely to graduate high school if they have just one Black teacher in elementary school.

“If you are that black male educator, you can have a tremendous impact on students just by even being a good representative of their culture and what they can aspire to be,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, President of Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “We also believe that investing overall in diversifying your teacher workforce is a huge lever that can help students achieve their full potential.”

Liltera Lewis is a former ELA teacher at Robert E. Lee High School. She left the district in January as the only Black, English teacher at a school where Black students make up 70% of the enrollment.

“I think those role models are essential to them,” Lewis said, referring to the relationship of Black educators to Black students. “A lot of the young black men that I’ve mentored and taught, a lot of them don’t have fathers in the household. They’re usually helping their single mothers, trying to take care of the household, and seeing a role model in their educational space is essential for them. It inspires them to want to strive for more and to do more with their own lives. So, it’s very important.”

The JPEF report also closely examined the district’s teacher turnover rates and how they relate to their schools’ racial and economic makeup.

It found that schools with a higher rate of students from low-income backgrounds and students-of-color are more likely to see higher rates of teacher turnover.

The report also found that schools with lower school grades more often had a less-experienced teaching staff compared to those with higher grades.

The full report can be found here.

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