More Diversity in California Teaching Corps

By Phillip Reese

When Rachel Valdivia-Ornelaz attended elementary school near Oxnard during the 1950s, none of her teachers were Latino.

Later, over the course of a decades-long career as an elementary school teacher in Oxnard, she watched that pattern change, especially during the last few years.

“Our district in Oxnard has been making a push to hire more Latinos, as role models,” said Valdivia-Ornelaz, who recently retired and now serves as state president of the Association of Mexican American Educators, which advocates for Latino students and teachers. “They are making an effort to try to get them any way they can.”

As districts like the Oxnard School District put the Great Recession behind them, they are hiring more teachers — and becoming more ethnically diverse. That is also true in several of the state’s largest school districts.

As a result of a combination of retirements and new teachers entering the profession, there has been a significant shift in the demographic profile of California’s teaching force. The proportion of the state’s teachers who are white, non-Hispanic fell from 67 percent in 2011-12 to 62 percent in 2017-18. During that same period, the proportion of teachers who are Latino grew from 17.7 percent to 20.7 percent and the proportion of teachers who are Asian, Pacific Islander or Filipino grew from 6.8 percent to 7.6 percent.

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