Increasing Educator Diversity Across Connecticut

Belén Dumont


Amid K-12 education budget cuts and an increasingly diverse student population, local leaders are calling for policy and societal changes that would best support educators of color state-wide.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a panel of education experts gathered at the Legislative Office Building to discuss effective efforts and unnecessary barriers that have particularly impacted Black and Brown teachers. 

Connecticut is home to 275,000 students of color—representing 54% of the total student population—and 54,000 multilingual learners who speak over 145 languages. Currently, educators of color represent 11.7% of the state’s teaching workforce, compared to 8.3% in 2016. 

“We are not talking about diversifying the profession just for the sake of diversifying,” stated Commission of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker. “It’s because we know it matters and the results we get from them being in the classroom.” 

Relay Graduate School of Education’s Dr. Rebecca Good pointed out that Connecticut’s student-of-color population has grown by 17.6% since 2009, rapidly outpacing the total number of educators of color across the state. 

“When the majority of our students identify as students of color, but in that same time span, our teachers of color have only increased by four percent, something’s a miss,” said Good.

Fortunately, recent data suggest that a variety of state-wide teaching initiatives have collectively brought up the number of Black and Brown teachers in a short period of time. 

In about four years, one thousand teachers of color have joined the workforce, compared to the previous decade—between 2019 and 2023—when the total number of educators of color went up by 597.

Hartford Public Schools World Languages and Culture Educator Richard de Meij and NAACP Connecticut’s Jason Teal identified assessments like the Praxis II and edTPA as barriers that prevent qualified and interested residents from teaching.

“We’re talking about these antiquated tests that have no data that show one is a great teacher or not,” said Teal. “The NAACP believes that mid-career transfers are the best way to get qualified Black and Brown teachers into the classroom, so why are we putting all these barriers in front of people?”

De Meij—named Connecticut’s 2019 World Language Teacher of the Year—shared his personal experience with becoming a certified teacher in the state, describing the process as ‘extremely difficult’. Although De Meij had eight years of teaching experience at a university level, the State Department of Education initially stated that he did not have sufficient credits on his transcript to teach in Connecticut.

“I had to start on my own a writing letter campaign to the State Department of Education,” said De Meij. “Eventually, I was granted a DSAP and I took several examinations through the Modern Language Association…[after] a whole lot of money spent…I got certified to be a teacher in the state of Connecticut.”

On the topic of long-term solutions, speakers emphasized that educators need robust support—financially, emotionally, and socially. De Meij explained that many teachers leave the profession or their district due to disrespect, which comes in many forms including insufficient pay and minimizing their voices.

“Decisions are made that impact the classroom, oftentimes negatively, without teachers having any voice in that matter,” said De Meij. “One of the ways to retain teachers is to elevate teachers’ voices, honor us, and acknowledge us for the experts and professionals that we are.”