Opinion: LT needs more diverse hires



Chart showing the demographics of LT teachers.

Our Position: As a part of LT’s continued effort to better the school, it should hire more teachers of color in order to improve inclusivity and education for people of color (POC) and white students. 

This year LT has taken a stronger stand to support minority students and to encourage conversation about diversity and racism. An easy way to ensure this continues is by hiring more diverse teachers. It will help POC students in so many ways and educate others about their cultures and the issues they face.

The diversity among teachers is extremely low with last year’s white teachers making up 94.4 percent of the staff. The rest is made up of 0.8 percent Black and Asian for each race, 1.2 percent Hispanic, and 2.8 percent unreported. As for students, LT’s demographics are 72 percent white, 4 percent Black, 20 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian and 2 percent two or more races. Comparing teacher to student diversity there is a huge disparity between a 5.6 percent diverse staff to 28 percent minority student population.  Over the past five to 10 years, the diversity among teachers has stayed consistent; this year is no exception since all the new hires were white. It appears nothing will change unless LT takes action soon. 

There are many benefits to having a diverse staff for both POC and white students. POC students are able to feel heard and recognized by someone who has the same cultural norms and way of life that they do. For white students, stereotypes are often disproven by POC staff.

Even though high school students have grown more into themselves and their personalities, it is still important for POC students to have an authority figure that they can relate to. Many studies show that students are positively impacted by having teachers that look like them, according to Teachforamerica.org. For Black students, it has been shown to increase the percentage of students that enroll in college and lessen the likelihood of Black students to drop out of high school.

The achievement gap, which we know is a problem at LT, is oftentimes lessened when there are POC teachers. The New York Times reports that white teachers are less likely to assign Black students to gifted or talented programs even if test scores match their white counterparts. This is probably due to unconscious bias, which would be less of a worry with teachers of color. While LT students have free control of what course level they take, a teacher of color would be more likely to encourage a student to push themselves. 

LT has done a great job at encouraging teachers to be accessible to their students, as proven by Vita Plena times before and after school and the ability to go to support rooms with teachers when we were in school. Having an opportunity for POC students to connect to their fellow POC teachers would boost their comfortability in school and do so much for their confidence. 

Imagine how learning history or having civics class—where it is common to discuss social issues—would affect POC and white students if they were taught by teachers of color. More students would feel supported in talking about racial injustices and experiences because an adult with similar experiences could reinforce their opinions. Students would feel valued, understood and less like “the only’s” in school. They wouldn’t feel like they speak for their whole race because another person is there to offer their opinion and support. 

When reached out to, LT’s Human Resource director Edward Piotrowski noted that LT has partnered with Northwest Personnel Administrators (NWPA) in order to recruit more minority teaching candidates. 

We are glad to hear that LT recognizes the problem and is taking some steps toward creating a more diverse staff. It is important that the work done with NWPA makes this goal come to fruition so real change can happen. In addition we hope LT stresses recruiting and hiring local minority teachers.   

As a temporary fix, LT should encourage white teachers to educate themselves and to discuss racial topics, privilege and much more. For example, history teachers should explore more diverse content instead of excluding minority history. LT should also encourage Black and Hispanic liaisons to reach out to students more for a more impactful relationship, and the school should add a liaison for the Asian population. But most importantly, LT needs to start searching for teachers of color and to diversify the staff in all areas. 

Staff vote: 26 to 0