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CMS Educator Diversity Report Shows Few Latino Teachers Or Principals

Latinos make up a large and growing share of the students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, but a tiny minority of its teachers and principals, according to a diversity report presented Tuesday.

Last year, Latino students overtook the number of white students in CMS for the first time. Twenty-seven percent of students were classified as Hispanic, but the latest diversity report shows only 2.3% of teachers and 0.6% of principals were.

Meanwhile, 26% of students were white, compared with about 63% of teachers and 53% of principals. The report shows there’s been little change in the racial makeup of teachers and principals over the last three years.

The percentage of Latino principals declined, from 1.2% to 0.6%, though that likely means a loss of only one position. CMS, which has 176 schools, launched a partnership with UNC Charlotte in 2018 to increase the number of Latino principals. At Tuesday's meeting, no one discussed where that project stands.

Human Resources Chief Christine Pejot said the district has been working with Latino community groups and agencies that bring temporary teachers from Central and South America.

"But we really, really need to up the game when it comes to our teacher recruitment in the area of Latinx, Hispanic, just to be able to have more of a reach," she said.

Black Representation Is Closer

Pejot also talked about recruitment programs to find Black educators and support them once they’re hired. Black students are the largest group in CMS, at 37%. The report shows 29% of teachers and 39% of principals are Black.

Asians, who make up 7% of CMS students, are also underrepresented, at 2% of teachers and 3.5% of principals.

Men remain a minority among CMS educators, accounting for about 28% of principals and assistant principals and less than 20% of teachers. Those percentages have not changed much in the last three years, either.

Pejot said CMS will work with Profound Gentlemen, a Charlotte group that supports male educators of color, to provide mentors and coaches for new Black male teachers in the coming year.

"Hopefully we can continue to grow that program in the years to come, but this upcoming school year is the first time we have to take that opportunity," she said.

Retention And Turnover Is Mixed

Tuesday's report showed retention rates increased over the last three years for Black, Hispanic, white and Asian teachers. The district's overall retention rate of 89.9% was higher than state and national averages, which brought praise from board members.

Principal departures, which were not broken out by race, rose from 3.5% in 2016-17 to 10.9% in 2019-20, the most recent year presented. Mekisha Mills of Human Resources said that could be connected with CMS getting a new superintendent that year. Clayton Wilcox was forced out in summer of 2019 and Earnest Winston was quickly named to replace him.

Student adviser Breana Fowler, a senior at North Mecklenburg High, suggested one resource for a diverse workforce might be the CMS student body.

"We could have our Latinx students, our Asian students or our white students — it doesn’t matter their race — but just have our students get engaged in education so that they can learn about teaching," she said.

Administrators and board members said they like her suggestion to encourage students to become educators. They noted that CMS does have a high school magnet program for prospective teachers on the campus of UNC Charlotte. It had fewer than 200 students last year, but 85% were students of color.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.