District lacks diversity in staff

The lack of racial diversity in teachers in the Shorewood School District has long been a problem, and a noticeable one at that. When SHS students think through their schedule, a similar conclusion arises. There is a great lack of diversity in educators at the highschool, as well as the middle and elementary schools. 

The disparity between Shorewood School District staff and students of color continues to grow. 

The district’s expectation for racial makeup of staff states that the percentage of staff of a certain race must be within ten percent of the percentage of students of that race. For example, since 65.9 percent  of Shorewood students are white, the percentage of white staff in the district must be within 55.9 percent and 75.9 percent. 

However, in reality, the percentage of white staff in the district is 91.5 percent. This difference is well outside of the guidelines, and has grown almost five percent in the past year. 

Since the pandemic began, the proportion of minority students in the district has increased, but racial diversity in district staff has not followed. For example, 10.5 percent  of SHS students are black, but only 5.4 percent of staff are. For Asian students, the difference is the worst, only 0.5 percent of Shorewood staff are of Asian descent, while 8 percent of students are. 

These differences are unacceptable, and have been shown to impact the learning experience of students of racial minorities.

While these percentages of the racial makeup of the student body and staff still fall within 10 percent of each other, technically following the guidelines, there is obviously a problem here. Often, the difference between staff and students of color, while technically within 10 percent, is clearly too extreme. This lack of representation is detrimental to the learning of minority students.

These differences are unacceptable, and have been shown to impact the learning experience of students of racial minorities. The benefits of a diverse teaching staff are evident: minority students have been proven to perform better when their teachers are of the same race. For example, studies have shown that minority students score higher on standardized tests, have improved attendance and are suspended less frequently when they have at least one teacher of the same race.

The district’s guidelines for racial diversity are also generous, especially considering that several minority groups occupy less than 10 percent of Shorewood’s student body. However, even with this generous berth, the district is not in compliance with this expectation in the 2021-2022 school year.

We acknowledge that the district has made a real effort in the last couple of years to acquire teachers and staff of color; however, we recognize that this is not an issue unique to Shorewood — there is a lack of minority teachers in the teaching career in general. In 2017–18, about 79 percent of public school teachers were white, 9 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were Black, 2 percent were Asian and 2 percent were of two or more races. In this coming year, we hope that the Board of Education and the district make strides to improve the racial make-up of Shorewood’s teaching staff, and put further effort into teacher retention, through whatever means they can.

Alexis Hu and Bobby Gronert are both student representatives on the school board.