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The lack of diversity and representation in PA classrooms make it impossible for students to connect with educators. Photo: Fauxels

Only 1.1% of teachers in Pennsylvania are Hispanic

PA's Department of Education released the Pennsylvania Workforce Strategy, which shows only 1.1% of teachers are Hispanic. It reflects a dire need for diversity

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education released a strategic plan for the next three years to fill in the gaps and disparities that exist within the education system in the state.

According to the Pennsylvania Workforce Strategy, Hispanic students represent 13.1% of the public school population, and teachers of color represent 7%, of which only 1.1% of teachers are Hispanic. The lack of diversity and representation in the classrooms make it impossible for students to connect with educators.

The data further shows that students of color represent 37% of the public school population, which poses a bigger question of if there are employment opportunities for teachers of color to occupy these spaces?

The economic disparities and the lack of educators' preparation and workforce pipelines makes it impossible for educators of color and underrepresented communities to thrive in this field.

The PA Department of Education wants the percentage of teachers of color entering the field to rise to 25% from its current 13%, but the percentage of desired Latino educators remains unknown.

In an interview with AL DÍA, Eric Hagarty, Acting Secretary of Education, said: “I think it is going to be a case-by-case basis for each district. We are not necessarily working to set statewide numbers, but we want the districts to reflect the communities they serve. So, in some places the numbers will be higher than that and in others going to be lower depending on the student population they serve. I think that’s what’s important here is making sure students in schools have teachers that reflect their background. So it's going to be higher in some places and lower in others. Once we set those baseline numbers for each district, we will be publishing that data.”

According to the Department of Education data and reporting for 2020-2021, out of 123,407 graduates, Hispanic students were 12,740 of the graduate students of that academic year. However, only 5,978 went to college, which means only 46.92% of Hispanic students in PA planned or attended college after graduation.

Hagarty also mentioned certain sectors will be prioritized for funding like Allentown, Harrisburg, etc., but the resources aren’t designed to provide economic aid for students of color to remain in school.

“The Department of Education does not provide economic aid, ourselves directly. But I know as part of Governor Wolf’s administration and per his cabinet that he has absolutely prioritized financial aid to people who need it," said Hagarty. "He has had a proposal to provide $2,000 stimulus checks to folks under a certain threshold, income threshold, and our Department of Community and Economic Development works everyday to try an make sure that those types of communities receive the economic development investments they need to thrive.”

Still, the lack of educators of color in public schools in Pennsylvania further emphasizes the lack of diversity, inclusion, and equity that exist in the education system.

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