Administrators in LaGrange-Brookfield School District 102, which serves the southwestern portion of Brookfield, say that their goal is to hire a staff that is 51 percent male and 31 percent people of color. That would match the current student demographics in the district.
District 102 Social Emotional Learning Coordinator Lynn Lawrence and Human Resources Director David Holt announced those goals during a presentation last week to the school board on the work of the Recruitment and Retention Equity Work Group of the Committee for Equity and Minority Achievement (CEMA).
Three other CEMA work groups also reported to the board in a presentation that took about two hours.
Achieving a teacher ratio of 51 percent male seems unlikely in the foreseeable future. Currently only 17.7 percent of active staff in District 102 and just 14.8 percent of teachers are men.
Nationwide only 20.4 percent of K-8 teachers are men, according to the website of MenTeach, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase the number of male teachers. Only 17.2 percent of this year’s District 102 job applicants were men. Historically elementary education teachers have been overwhelmingly female, although more men have been becoming elementary school teachers in recent years.
“Those are very lofty goals,” Holt said.
In a telephone interview with the Landmark, Holt said the goal was aspirational.
“It’s not something, frankly, that we expect to reach in any near term,” Holt said. “But we certainly are making it clear a strong commitment to providing, as we like to say internally, both windows and mirrors to our students, so we’re acknowledging that this is also important.”
Male teachers are most common at Park Junior High School, where 28.8 percent of the teachers are men. Traditionally, men are more likely to teach in the higher grades. Only 13.3 percent of teachers at Congress Park School, located in southwest Brookfield, are men. The district has no male kindergarten teachers.
The ratio of men to women is higher in administrative roles, with 33.3 percent of employees at the district’s administrative center being men.
Black/indigenous/people of color (BIPOC) teachers are also underrepresented in the district. While 31 percent of District 102 students are classified as BIPOC, only 6.7 percent of teachers are.
Congress Park School has the most BIPOC teachers in the district at 15.6 percent. According to the 2020-21 Illinois School Report Card, 47.5 percent of Congress Park students are Hispanic, 36.9 percent are white, 8.5 percent are Black and 5.3 percent are mixed race.
The district conducts exit interviews with all staff leaving the district. Over the past five years, Congress Park ranked the lowest among all schools in the district in terms of the percentage of exiting employees who felt that all employees supported ethnic, racial and gender diversity, although only five exiting Congress Park employees were interviewed.
District 102 has taken proactive steps to address equity, boost minority student academic achievement and promote diversity since the CEMA initiative began in 2016. The district has expanded its social media presence to five platforms, and social media content is also presented in Spanish.
All channels of district communication include messaging related to its commitment to what is known as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). There is also messaging promoting the commitment to DEI in every building in the district, mostly in the main office and the principal’s office.
The district is reaching out to more colleges and universities it recruits from in an attempt to create a more diverse applicant pool. All interview panels now are expected to have a diverse makeup and diverse candidates are supposed to be interviewed for every job opening.
The district seems to making some progress in creating a more diverse workforce although it remains far short of its goals and targets. This year 27.1 percent of all job applicants to the district were classified as BIPOC compared to just 17 percent four years ago. This year at least 65 percent, the race of 6.9 percent of job applicants was unknown, of job applicants were white compared 77.5 percent four years ago.
Currently 93.3 percent of the district’s teachers are white, while 68 percent of the district’s students are white.
Hispanic teachers are most severely underrepresented in the district compared to the number of Hispanic students. While 20 percent of District 102 students are Hispanic, only about 3.9 percent of District 102 teachers are Hispanic.
Black and Asian teachers are slightly underrepresented in the district. Only about 2.5 percent of the district’s teachers are Black while about 5 percent of the district’s students are Black. Only 0.9 percent of the district’s teachers are Asian while about 1.7 percent of the district’s students are Asian.
The district’s teaching staff is slowly becoming more diverse. A decade ago, 96 percent of the district’s teachers were white, according to the school report card.
“The district is as diverse as it has been,” Holt said. “We are moving in the right direction.”