Demand Oak Park Schools Hire More Teachers of Color

D97 & D200

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It's time for all the recent community discussion about race in Oak Park schools to turn to action. One clear issue that's been voiced again and again is the need to strengthen our teaching staff by making it more representative of the students in our community. We need teachers who can be advocates for all our students, teachers who can disrupt the biases of our institutional structures, teachers who can give our students the cultural competency they will need to navigate the world they will face as adults.

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To: D97 & D200
From: [Your Name]

Non-white students make up 45% of the District 97 student body while non-white teachers account for only 19% of the teaching staff.

At OPRF, non-white students make up 47% of the OPRF student body, but non-white teachers account for only 21% of the teaching staff. Not only that, but many of the non-white teaching staff are put in support, rather than primary, teaching positions.

This puts our students and our community at a disadvantage.

It should go without saying that a diverse teaching staff is good for our students, but here are a few good reasons why it’s essential:

Teachers of color help students of all backgrounds feel more welcome and comfortable at school, resulting in better engagement and a higher quality learning environment.

The research is clear that students of color benefit academically and emotionally from teachers of color. Hiring more teachers of color also benefits our whole community – if all our students our performing at their best, then we can truly claim that our schools are among the best in the country.

Studies show that teachers of color are more likely to have a much higher estimation of the academic abilities of both students of color and white students. Black and Latino students are more likely to be identified as gifted by teachers of their own race, with no corresponding reduction by teachers of color of white students being identified as gifted.

A diverse teaching staff allows our students to develop cultural competency to succeed in this globally connected world.

Teachers of color can help disrupt what can be one-sided portrayals of the world and offer invaluable insight to our students of all backgrounds.

The District 97 and OPRF teaching staff across all departments should reflect its student body.

More teachers of color in our schools is not a “nice to have.” It is an imperative for our students. Our schools need to hire and retain more teachers of color. Our schools need to hire the quality teachers of color who apply for jobs in our district.