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COVER STORY

Towards a more perfect state: Teacher diversity in Illinois By Theresa Kelly Gegen

Theresa Kelly Gegen is editor of The Illinois School Board Journal.

I

n 2016, National Public Radio

Nationa l ly, wh ite st udent s

are slightly less diverse than their

p ubl i she d a “p er fe c t st at e

are 48 percent of public school

national cohort: 80 percent of pub-

index,” based on a premise that

enrollees, followed by Hispanic

lic school teachers in the U.S. are

used race, education, age, income,

(27 percent), African-American

white.

and religion to consider which state

students (16 percent), and Asian

should “go first” in national elec-

(6 percent).

For those curious about gender demographics, 77 percent of Illinois

tions. Equal parts data journalism,

In Illinois 83 percent of the

teachers are female and 23 percent

sociological study, and election

state’s 130,000 teachers are white,

are male; these percentages have

news, the story placed Illinois atop

6 percent are black, another 6 per-

not changed since 2008.

the “perfect state index” and named

cent are Hispanic, and 2 percent

A lthoug h there are more

it the winner of the “most average”

Asian. Although these percentages

minority teachers in the U.S. now

award. The Land of Lincoln “won”

are mostly unchanged over the past

than 10 years ago, it’s not keeping

primarily because the index gave

10 years, there is a slight decrease

up with the increasingly diverse

extra weight to each state’s racial

in the percentage of black teach-

student population. For Illinois’

composition as a strong indicator

ers since 2008. Illinois teachers

teacher population to match its

of likely voter behavior. And Illinois population “closely mirrors that country’s racial portrait … almost perfectly.” What’s not perfect is that Illi-

Students

ILLINOIS

nois, like most states, has a gap

5%

ASIAN

2%

between the racial diversity of its

17% BLACK

6%

student population, and that of its teachers.

Teachers

25% HISPANIC 6% 49% WHITE 83%

The numbers Enrollment of students in Illinois public schools reached the minori-

NATION

ty-majority mark in 2014, and that

6%

ASIAN

20%

mark holds true today. According

16%

BLACK

20%

to Illinois School Report Card data,

27% HISPANIC 20%

of the state’s 2 million public school

48%

WHITE

80%

students, 49 percent are white, 25 percent Hispanic, 17 percent black, and 5 percent Asian. 20

Data source: Illinois School Report Card data THE ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL / MARCH-APRIL 2018

The Illinois School Board Journal, March/April 2018  

A bimonthly magazine for public school board members and administrators highlighting issues in education.

The Illinois School Board Journal, March/April 2018  

A bimonthly magazine for public school board members and administrators highlighting issues in education.