Eliminating Barriers for Teachers of Color in Minnesota: Lessons from Aspiring Teachers

June 4, 2024

As of 2023, students of color and indigenous students made up about 38% of Minnesota’s K-12 population, but teachers of color and indigenous teachers made up only about 6% of the total workforce.

These gaps have well-documented consequences for student outcomes, especially for Black students. A student is over 13% more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college if they have just one Black teacher between kindergarten and 3rd grade; if they have two within that time period, that rises to a 32% greater likelihood. Despite the positive impact Black teachers have on student outcomes, Black teachers make up only 1.5% of the teaching corps in the state of MN.

Because of these gaps, EdAllies convened a Community Action Team (CAT) cohort in 2023 to examine the barriers that discourage and prevent teachers of color from entering the workforce. Over the course of nearly six months, the cohort met on a regular basis to:

  • Share and hear stories of cohort members’ experiences with the teacher pipeline, helping us to identify trends and problem areas in teacher recruitment;
  • Dig into state and national data, and help to identify what contributes to the trends seen; and
  • Through a facilitated process, identify and research policy solutions to develop community-led recommendations for change to be implemented by school leaders and policymakers to improve recruitment and retention efforts

This report is the culmination of the CAT cohort’s experiences and recommendations and will be used to influence local and state policy.

The main conclusion reached by cohort members is that many of the barriers plaguing Minnesota’s teacher preparation systems are built into existing preparation programs, standards, policies, and expectations. Because barriers are structural and long-standing, we must do more than tinker with our broken systems, and instead re-vision them from the ground up with the needs of teachers of color at the center.