LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) announces it's increasing the number of teachers of color and keeping them, at least one employee feels it's a step toward racial justice for Louisville. Spectrum News 1 is tracking the new hires and the rate at which minority members leave work at the district. Staff claim the rate at which Black teachers are leaving has been cut in half, but there's still work to do in hiring employees to mirror the student body. 

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS reports the rate at which Black teachers are leaving the district is now at 7%, versus previously 14%

  • The district is increasingly hiring more teachers and staff of color, with its goal to mirror the student demographics

  • Currently, JCPS says there are 16% teachers of color, while there are 60% students of color, 38% African American

  • One teacher calls it progress and feels it's a step toward racial justice in Louisville

Troy Duncan, Jr., teaches engineering at W.E.B. DuBois Academy. His eighth-grade students do hands-on STEM projects while he hopes to inspire the young men to pursue academics. Duncan believes he's a role model for them, partly because he looks like them.

"It is 100% inspirational. My father used to tell me, 'they'll be what they see,'" Duncan explained. 

He's using his identity as a Black male teacher to show the pre-teenagers what successes lie before them and can be achieved.

"It makes all the impact in the world. One thing I've learned and I continually tell myself, Rome was not built overnight, especially with middle school kids," Duncan added.

So, he's happy to hear JCPS is still hiring more teachers of color. The district is celebrating a "record amount" of Black male teachers, specifically. Also, more are in leadership roles like a school principal. The goal is for the staff makeup to mirror the students,' and JCPS admits there's a long way to go.

JCPS Personnel Executive Administrator Dr. Aimee Green-Webb said, "Ultimately it's going to be, it's going to stay the percentage of our student population. That's going to remain the goal."

Right now, there are 16% teachers of color compared to 60% students of color. There are 38% African American students. Still, Green-Webb said half as many Black teachers are leaving the district now. The attrition rate has been cut from 14% to 7%.

Duncan said that's good, while he hopes the retention is happening because new teachers are getting the support they need.

"I'll be very honest," Duncan admitted, "I was always told, 'know that as a Black man teacher, you're going to be sent to the worst schools.' You're gonna be the security guard-type guy. And there have been times where I've felt like that, but also there have been times where I know I was needed in those settings."

Green-Webb assured Spectrum News 1 supports are happening, and attributes the decreasing attrition rate to it, in part. 

"If a position is open in a building that may not have as many supports in place, we're going to shore them up and provide that support to help reduce the amount of burnout that teacher may experience," she said.