In this two-part series, WRAL News investigates teacher recruitment and diversity in North Carolina’s public schools and colleges of education.
WRAL analyzed data showing the race and gender of nearly 100,000 teachers and 1.4 million students in North Carolina’s 115 public school systems. Eleven school districts in the state had no Hispanic teachers last school year, and eight school systems had no black teachers. One district had no teachers of color at all.
WRAL found that minority students make up 52 percent of the traditional public school body, but 80 percent of teachers are white. For students of color, especially black and Hispanic boys, that means they may seldom – or never – have a teacher who looks like them during their kindergarten through 12th grade years.
In part one, we analyze student and teacher demographic data for all 115 school districts in North Carolina from the 2017-18 school year. In part two, we investigate diversity and recruitment at North Carolina’s colleges of education and the NC Teaching Fellows program.
WRAL education reporter Kelly Hinchcliffe received a grant from the Education Writers Association to work on this series. She was selected as a national EWA reporting fellow last summer.
What makes this project innovative?
WRAL News analyzed data showing the race and gender of nearly 100,000 teachers and 1.4 million students in North Carolina's 115 public school systems. We created a database to allow readers to find their school system and see how diverse their teachers are compared with students. They could also see how their school system compares with other similar school districts across the state. WRAL also analyzed student enrollment data for North Carolina's 46 colleges of education - both public and private - from 2011 to 2017. Readers could search the database to see how many students each college's undergraduate education program enrolled by race and gender during those years. WRAL also analyzed 25 years of North Carolina Teaching Fellows data and found that the program failed to meet its own diversity goals, enrolling only 17 percent minorities during that time. As part of the project, WRAL News reached out to dozens of men of color who were part of the NC Teaching Fellows program to find out why they applied, what the experience was like and whether they have stayed in education. We featured 21 of their stories.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
After our two-part series ran on WRAL.com and WRAL-TV, a state Democratic lawmaker asked Republicans to join her in supporting legislation to help North Carolina recruit more teachers of color. Our series also gained national attention. Former U.S. Education Secretary John King shared our stories on Twitter and said there is an "urgent need" for teacher preparation programs to increase the diversity of their students. Our series was also named the best education journalism of the week by The Grade, a national journalism site that tracks education reporting. We beat out stories from Politico, Philly Inquirer, Sports Illustrated and others. Below are just some of the comments we received from our readers: - "Thank you for shedding light on a critical need in our great state regarding education!" - "It is a very important subject to be discussed ... Thanks for your thoughtful reporting." - "(Your) piece on lack of teacher diversity in NC Schools was amazing and eye opening." - "I thought the work that you and your team (did) was excellent." - "I am so happy you reported this. This is being shared around Moore County where I am employed. This is a difficult issue for us. Being a teacher of color, I am one of approximately 4 in my entire school ... So, kudos for bringing this conversation to light. It is a need. North Carolina lacks multicultural diversity in education. Thank you again."
Source and methodology
We analyzed student and teacher demographic data for all 115 school districts in North Carolina from the 2017-18 school year. Teacher demographic data is hand-entered by school districts and submitted to the state Department of Public Instruction. The teacher data only include full-time employees who work 35-plus hours as elementary, secondary or "other" teachers. Other teachers include special education, art, music, band, physical education, etc. Teacher assistants were not included in the analysis.
We used DocumentCloud, Edius, Excel, FooTable, Photoshop and Pivot Tables, as well as a colleague's coding skills to create the searchable teacher and student database.
Reporters: Kelly Hinchcliffe and Lena Tillett (additional reporting by WRAL.com intern Yesenia Jones) Data analysis and interactive: Tyler Dukes, Jason Eder and Kelly Hinchcliffe Photographers: Terry Cantrell, Greg Clark, Kelly Hinchcliffe, Alex McClarnon, David McCorkle, Will Sanders and Mark Stebnicki TV editor: Mark Stebnicki TV producer: Jenn Sorber Smith TV graphics: Steve Lloyd Web editor: Deborah Strange Web video producer: Valerie Aguirre Project editor: Dave Hendrickson