LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) announced the district has a record number of teachers of color, and it’s largest number of Black male teachers ever.

“For me personally, I didn’t have a Black science teacher until college,” Andrea Wynn told reporters during a press conference. 

That impacted Wynn so much that she credits it with being the catalyst that made her switch her careers, from a med student to a science teacher. She currently teaches 7th grade at Stuart Academy. 

In 2019, JCPS rolled out its first racial equity plan. One of its goals was to hire and retain more teachers of color so that students of color could see themselves in their teachers. 

Initiatives to assist with recruitment and retention of teachers of color were launched. One of the goals set forth in the plan was to increase the number of teachers of color by two percent by 2020.

Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said the district currently isn’t there, yet, but he did list what’s been accomplished so far.

“So over the past two years, we have 24% of the new teachers we have hired have been teachers of color,” Dr. Pollio said.

Here are some other numbers to know:

  • From Oct. 2018 to Oct. 2020, JCPS has had a 3.2% increase in teachers of color
  • From May 2018 until now, that increase is 6%.
  • Of the 424 new teachers hired for the 2020-21 school year, 83, or 20%, are teachers of color.
  • Eight of the last 12 principals hired are Black.
  • JCPS has its largest-ever number of Black male teachers, 213.
  • The attrition rate of Black teachers has dropped from 14% to 7%.
  • The Louisville Teacher Residency Program has produced 30 residents, 23 of whom are people of color.

When the racial equity plan was rolled out, 16% of JCPS’s teachers were of color. Currently, there are 1,117 teachers of color out of 6,738 teachers total in the district. That means, approximately 16.58% are of color currently.

Dr. Pollio said 36% of JCPS’s students are Black. So the district’s goal is to mirror those demographics. 

“We know when we fund racial equity programs, like bringing teachers like Andrea into the classrooms, like teacher residency, we know the research is a clear, as I’ve told you before, that achievement increases and especially achievement for black students,” Dr. Pollio said.

A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research report, that looked at the the long-run impacts of same-race teachers, found that Black students randomly assigned to a Black teacher in grades K through 3rd are 7% more likely to graduate from high school. The report also found that 13% are more likely to enroll in college compared to their peers in the same school who are not assigned a Black teacher. 

Wynn said having racial equity in the classroom doesn’t just help students of color.

“I think us Black teachers and teachers of color bring that perspective with us so maybe before they might not have had a teacher to talk with them about Henrietta Lacks when discussing cells,” Wynn said.

So Wynn said it’s important to see more teachers like her in the classroom.

“One’s with curly hair; ones with the same skin tone… so we need more of you. If you are out there; we need more of you,” Wynn said.

Spectrum News asked JCPS if the district will meet its 2019 goal to increase the number of teachers of color by two percent by 2020. In an emailed statement, JCPS Spokesperson Mark Hebert wrote, “While we are still working towards our goal, we understand it’s not possible in the next two months. This was an ambitious approach with an aspirational goal that we will strive to reach in the future.”