Simmons College

Simmons College of Kentucky in November, 2021.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When you look at mission statements for many colleges and universities, you'll find things about inclusion and equity. However, when it comes to who is leading the classrooms, new data shows it is anything but diverse.

According to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of faculty at secondary schools increased by 41% over a 10-year period, but diversity among new hires was rather unchanged. 

Out of 1.5 million full-time faculty in secondary education in Fall 2018, 54% were full time and 46% were part time. 

Of those, 40% were white males and 35% were white females, 7% of professors were Asian/Pacific Islander males and 5% were Asian/Pacific Islander females. 

Black males, Black females, Hispanic males and Hispanic females each made up 3%. American Indian/Alaska Native and those who are multiracial each made up 1% or less of full-time faculty.

The numbers for full-time assistant professors showed a similar trend. 

The data showed 34% were white males and 39% were white females, while 7% were Asian/Pacific Islander males and Asian/Pacific Islander females.

Black females made up 5% while Black males, Hispanic males and Hispanic females each accounted for 3%.

American Indian/Alaska Native individuals and multiracial individuals each made up 1% or less of full-time assistant professors.

It's data Dr. Lucian Yates III, with Simmons College of Kentucky, says isn't surprising.

"This is my fourth HBCU," said Yates. "In all of those places, diversity in the teaching profession is extremely low. Kids are not broken, the system is broken."

Yates said part of the reason for inequity is due to the tests required to become a teacher. 

"We know those tests, they say they're not biased, but some of those tests are biased. So you really can't get the diversity you're looking for. So, the solution creates the problem," said Yates. 

Yates said the testing process inhibits diversity as many people of color decide to pursue degrees in other areas of study after learning of the testing requirements. Yates added that you cannot fully identify who would make a good teacher purely based off GPA, SAT and ACT scores, but need to incorporate other factors, such as life experience and background, as well. 

"In order to change the product, sometimes you've got to change the process. It's our systems that we need to repair. From the process of how we go about selecting people to be educators, to the way we train them, to the way we license them and so forth," he said. 

To help increase diversity locally, Simmons College is teaming up with Jefferson County Public Schools, the University of Louisville and Kentucky State University to recruit teachers of color and offer more training for non-minority teachers on how to make a difference in K-12 learning. 

"The number of students of color are increasing in our public schools. We need to do some things if we want our teachers and our administrators to look like the kids they're working with," said Yates. 

Along with a new mural recently painted in downtown Louisville, the Portland Museum has announced a scholarship, honoring Henrietta Helm that will aim to increase diversity in schooling. 

The annual scholarship will help train future Black educators through the University of Louisville and the Louisville Teacher Residency Program. 

To learn more about the scholarship, click here

Yates said increased diversity is important as it could help kids be more motivated to do better in school.

"They are less apt for harsher disciplinary penalties when they have people that look like them and understand where they're coming from. Those kind of things really make an impact in K-12 learning. That I believe in you and that you are worthy," said Yates. 

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