Articles News Press & Media

Report reveals need for racial diversity in KC’s teachers

KC Hispanic News, Published March 26, 2021 – A new report shows that Latinx/Latino/Hispanic students in Kansas City metro-area schools are unlikely to see themselves reflected in the teacher leading their classroom.

Read entire KC Hispanic News article >>

Articles News Press & Media

Latinx Education Collaborative and Urban Education Research Center Release Report on Teacher Diversity in Kansas City Metro

Media Contact:
Edgar José Palacios
(305) 906-0644

Kansas City, MO; February 5, 2021: A report released today from Latinx Education Collaboration (LEC), “Landscape Analysis: Teachers of Color in Kansas City” was commissioned by the nonprofit organization to further understand the critical state of diversity among students and teachers in elementary and secondary education.

A research team at the Urban Education Research Center (UERC) of University of Missouri-Kansas City used 2019 teacher self-reported data provided by the Kansas State Department of Education and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to determine
the outcome of the report.

“Representation matters. Students have better educational outcomes when they see themselves reflected in the teachers that serve them. In fact, every student benefits from a diverse teacher workforce,” says Edgar Palacios, Founder and CEO of LEC. In the Kansas City metropolitan area, there are more than one hundred public schools. Approximately one third of these schools do not have at least one teacher of color in the building. “I wonder what my opportunities would be like today if I had had more teachers of color. I don’t know. But we’ll use the findings from this report to hone LECs efforts in educating our students and recruiting and supporting Black and Brown education
professionals,” adds Palacios.

Jackson County and Wyandotte County —together employ the largest number of Latinx teachers as their combined share of the total percentage of Latinx teachers in Kansas City is 87%. Jackson County employs 174 Latinx teachers, which is 67% of the total Latinx teacher population. Wyandotte County employs 54 Latinx teachers (21%). Although efforts are being made locally to recruit more teachers of color, retention rates are not
keeping the pace with the growing number of students of color. The cause for high turnover notes insufficient preparation, lack of in-school and out-of-school supports and mentoring, poor teaching conditions, additional student mentoring burdens and instability in the high-need schools in which they teach. The analysis shows the achievement gap among students of color directly correlates with an inability to connect with their instructor.

Additional reports show when students of color are taught by teachers of color, their math and reading scores are more likely to improve (Egalite et al., 2015). The students are more likely to graduate from high school and aspire to go to college (Gershenson et al., 2017). Students of
color and white students are more likely to have positive perceptions of their teachers of color, including feeling cared for and academically challenged (Cherng & Halpin, 2016).

A copy of the report can be accessed at For more information or how to support the Latinx Education Collaborative, call (305) 906 0644 or visit

About Latinx Education Collaborative
The Latinx Education Collaborative (LEC) is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization based in Kansas City, MO. The LEC works on increasing the representation of Latinx education professionals in K- 12 through its three strategic objectives: retention, pathway exposure, and recruitment support.

About Urban Education Research Center
The Urban Education Research Center (UERC) is a research and evaluation center within the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education. The center works collaboratively within the School of Education, across the university and in conjunction with local partners
and communities. Collaborators and partners include educational leaders, educators, researchers, community leaders, advocacy groups, industries and service organizations throughout the Greater Kansas City area.



Discretion: A Tool for Equity or Oppression?

Recently, with the sentencing of Paul Manafort and the college access scandal, I’ve been thinking a lot about “discretion” and the consequences of its inequitable application. A few examples from around the internet:

  • “Hispanic students constitute 22.3% of students but only 15.4% of students receiving gifted services (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). […] Researchers have identified teacher discretion in the gifted assignment process as a potentially important contributor to this inequity. […] Reliance on teacher referrals can disadvantage students of color if teachers hold lower expectations for them or are less likely to recognize giftedness in such students.” (Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High-Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs| Grissom, Redding)
  • “During the 2009-2010 school year more than 70 percent of students arrested in schools were Black or Hispanic. […] The evidence shows that zero-tolerance policies have failed to make schools safer and are not effective at handling disciplinary issue. […] school districts should establish a disciplinary policy that clearly outlines disciplinary actions and consequences based on the severity of the misbehavior. […] This practice will also ensure that school administrators are not stripped of discretion when disciplining students and unique and mitigating circumstances are considered before punishment is imposed. ” (Tolerance in Schools for Latino Students: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline | Castillo)
  • “[…] exposure to same-race teachers lowers office referrals for willful defiance across all grade levels, suggesting that teacher discretion plays a role in driving our results.” (Exposure to Same-Race Teachers and Student Disciplinary Outcomes for Black Students in North Carolina | Lindsay, Hart)
  • “In New York, attitudes toward manipulation—the propensity among teachers to score leniently—appear to have varied significantly from school to school. They also, interestingly, may have even varied within schools. In the Regents study, white and Asian students were more likely than their black and Latino counterparts to have their test scores manipulated if they fell just short of the cutoff—there were just much more black and Latino students total who scored below the threshold. In other words, the score manipulation may have contributed to inequality just as much as it erased it.” (Why Would a Teacher Cheat? | Wong)

In Missouri, Black and Brown students are arrested at higher percentages (18.6%; 6.2% respectively) than they represent in enrollment numbers (14.2%; 5.2% respectively). Why do you think that is? How does discretion contribute to this inequality?

How does discretion show up in your classroom or school? And more importantly, why are Black and Brown students subject to the most negative consequences of its application?




Is a Career in Education Meant for People of Color?

The past few weeks, I have struggled with a few race-related, education-based events that have occurred within our Kansas City community. And the events have me pondering a few questions:

“Is the field of education designed for teachers of color to quit? Is the system designed to prevent teachers of color from succeeding?” Or when asked differently, “When a teacher of color quits, does the system win?”

According to a report from the Education Trust, “although greater numbers of Latino teachers are entering the classroom, they […] are leaving the profession at higher rates than their White peers.” Black teachers are also leaving the teaching profession at higher rates than their White counterparts; “National data points to a somewhat larger overall turnover disparity of about seven percentage points between black and white teachers (22 versus 15 percent, respectively). The reality is that “teachers tend to be white, female, and have nearly a decade and a half of experience in the classroom”.

So why is it that even when data show that ALL students benefit from being exposed to diverse teachers, school systems still struggle to retain them?

Maybe educators of color are just not welcomed (and maybe that’s the way the experience is designed to play out). One article explains it well: “Minority teachers are more likely to work in schools with high concentrations of students of color. But because of unconscious and overt biases, […] school administrators do not always value those teachers’ experiences the way they should.”

And if my hypothesis is correct, how do we disrupt the system? What mechanisms could we implement to ensure that teachers of color are retained? Or do we just start over and create a new system?

I would love to hear (read) your thoughts.



Teacher Certification Criteria: A Barrier to Potential Latinx Educators

Did you know that per a Department of Education report “forty-nine percent of Hispanic [Latinx] bachelor’s degree students majoring in education completed a bachelor’s degree six years after beginning postsecondary education”? Unfortunately, those that are fortunate enough to graduate with an education degree still have a difficult time actually getting into teaching.

According to an April 2018 report from the Learning Policy Institute, a surprising barrier for teacher of color recruitment is that “teacher licensure exams […] disproportionately exclude teacher candidates of color despite little evidence that these exams predict teacher effectiveness.” As states elevate the criteria for those interested in entering the teaching profession, people of color are systematically being discouraged and prevented from becoming teachers. As it relates to potential Latinx educators, here are some of the challenges (according to Chalkbeat) they face in becoming teachers after receiving their education degrees:

  • 34 states have strict GPA requirements (KS: 2.75 overall GPA; MO: 2.75 overall GPA & 3.0 GPA in professional coursework). A 3.0 GPA is the most common requirement, preventing roughly 33% of Hispanic (Latinx) college graduates from entering the profession
  • Hispanic (Latinx) candidates are 20% less likely to pass the Praxis I exam than their White counterparts
  • The fees associated with certification can be prohibitive to people of color
  • Hispanic (Latinx) teachers are about twice as likely as their White counterparts to enter the teaching profession through alternative certification programs, which some states limit

Is certification too strict for aspiring educators of color? Does GPA translate to teacher effectiveness? The research might surprise you (more of that in another blog post). It is important to remember that data show that ALL students benefit when exposed to diverse educators. By unnecessarily weeding out potential teachers of color (particularly those that have graduated with education degrees), we are minimizing the potential of students of color to achieve the best educational outcomes.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any creative solutions?