JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A report compiled by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) last year showed the teacher workforce in Duval County Public Schools does not reflect the same diversity as the student body.
Now the group is trying to change that.
JPEF has a goal to recruit and retain 1,000 diverse male educators by 2025 in an effort to close the teacher diversity gap in Duval County.
JPEF’s original research in 2021 showed Black and Hispanic male teachers made up less than 10% of DCPS teachers, while Black and Hispanic students made up about 60% of the student body. The Duval County numbers mirror those across the country, where the shortage of diverse male teachers is also seen.
JPEF is now partnering with DCPS and the University of North Florida to make its goal happen.
“Research really has shown us that Black male teachers, brown male teachers, they have a significant impact on our diverse learners in particular. We often turn to a particular study out of North Carolina that found that they were 39% less likely to drop out if they had even one Black male teacher in elementary school,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, JPEF president. “When teachers or students don’t have teachers who look like them, they might not reach their academic potential.”
Tutwiler Fortune said some of the reasons why the lag is happening is because teaching was once one of the few professions that were available to women when they weren’t fully included in the workforce, as well as the relatively low wages for teachers.
“We kind of look, as well, at, you know, what is the probability of our current learners going into the profession, as well, and acknowledged that there’s a role model effect,” she added. “So if our Black and brown students don’t see people who look like them in the teaching profession, they could also conclude that it’s not for them.”
JPEF said it wants to build on current initiatives already in place to recruit more diverse male teachers and launch a marketing campaign this spring in order to reach its ambitious goal.
Last school year, DCPS had 470 Black male teachers, which translates into about 7% of the teaching force, and about 70, or 1% of teachers, were Hispanic males, Tutwiler Forture said.
“If we kind of use that as our baseline, that means that we’re looking to just under double that number of teachers if we’re able to do a good job of retaining the ones we have,” she added.
Tutwiler Fortune said boosting those numbers will not only help students of color but the community at large.
“Diversity matters to all of us because of how diverse our society is,” Tutwiler Fortune said. “Our children really need to know, math and reading, but they also need to know how to get along with each other. The jobs of our future economy are going to require people to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds, and so, you know, this focus on diversity is intended as much as anything to make our community richer, and we know that all children will benefit from it.”
For more information about the initiative, visit JaxPEF.org.
This weekend, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund will name the Duval County Teacher of the year and you can watch it happen live during the 31st annual EDDY Awards.
It’s a night to celebrate all of the educators in Duval County.
News4JAX will bring you stories of some of the amazing work being done in our local classrooms and we’ll introduce you to the five finalists for the Teacher of the Year and then watch who wins on Channel 4 at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.
You can also see it streaming on News4JAX.com or the News4JAX+ app on your smart tv, Roku, Fire Stick or Apple TV.