New analysis finds New York State public schools face challenges retaining teachers of color

Press Release

A new analysis released today by the New York Equity Coalition found that across New York State, public schools have had difficulties retaining teachers of color, particularly Black, American Indian, and LatinX teachers, and students of color and teachers of color are disproportionately concentrated in schools with the lowest teacher retention rates.  

The analysis, which features data from a four-year period between the 2018 and 2022 school years, also found that charter schools and schools in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse have some of the lowest retention rates in the state. Additionally, there is a 9-point percentage gap between the retention rate of Black teachers and their White colleagues statewide.  

An online data tool accompanies this analysis, which allows users to see how school districts across New York State are doing at representing the diversity of students and retaining diverse teachers. 

“Teaching is a demanding profession that has undoubtedly become more challenging post-pandemic. As classroom teachers work every day to improve the outcomes of their students, we must ensure that working conditions encourage them to stay,” said Dr. Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “Too many teachers of color are choosing to leave our honorable profession because of persistent challenges that plagued the sector even before the pandemic. It’s time for change. Teacher diversity positively impacts the experience of every child. Teachers of color need opportunities to build and generate wealth through higher compensation packages, student loan forgiveness programs or scholarships, and more. We should be learning how to improve from the experiences of teachers of color. They are leaving because they have not seen action. We must create initiatives that give teachers — especially first-generation, Black, LatinX, American Indian and immigrant teachers, and prospective teachers opportunities to thrive.”    

The analysis comes at a time when there is a national conversation about the teaching profession facing a crisis, including fewer people — including people of color — wanting to join the profession, and schools and subject areas facing teacher shortages, which was commonplace in New York State even before the pandemic.  

Among the findings:  

  • There is a 7%-point gap in retention rates between schools in the Big 4 (Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse), (76%) and those in low-needs districts (83%).    
  • Districts with fewer students from low-income backgrounds, also known as low-needs districts, have some of the highest retention rates for teachers of color, while schools in rural high-needs districts have the highest discrepancies in retention rates of Black teachers, 10 percentage points lower than the retention rate of all teachers.    
  • Across all districts, White teachers have the highest retention rates, at or above the retention rate for all teachers.  
  • A small number of teachers in the state — less than half a percent — became school leaders over the course of the four-year period. White teachers were also far more likely to become school leaders than teachers of color.  

“As a former Yonkers Public Schools Principal and President of the Yonkers Board of Education, I know firsthand that a diverse teacher workforce has a positive impact on academic outcomes and also know we can do more to recruit, educate, and retain teachers who come from every neighborhood in our very diverse city,” said New York Assemblymember Nader Sayegh. “Enrollment in teacher education programs nationwide has declined by nearly 50%, so New York needs to act now to avoid an ever-growing shortage of teachers, declining diversity in the teacher workforce, and seeing the most experienced teachers leaving education.” 

“The Committee for Hispanic Children & Families (CHCF) is dedicated to ensuring that every child has access to high-quality, culturally responsive and sustaining education settings, and opportunities. A core factor in responsively and holistically meeting student needs lies with the educators and school leaders who are tasked with growing and guiding these young minds as they develop their sense of identity and understanding of the world,” said Ramon Peguero, Esq., President & CEO of The Committee for Hispanic Children & Families. “CHCF joins our partners in the New York Equity Coalition in underscoring the critical importance of educator diversity and the retention of educators of color and multilingual educators. Especially during these times of high teacher turnover and lowered morale across the nation, it is essential that New York not only act to uplift the educator workforce, but intentionally invest in efforts to diversify and support educators to stay in the field.” 

‘Representation across all sectors is important, but it is most foundational to students of color when evaluating their educational trajectory,” said Jacquelyn Martell, Executive Director, Education Reform Now New York. “New York lawmakers need to commit to passing effective teacher diversity legislation, resources, and plans of retention in order to create an equitable pathway for teachers of color seeking to continue this career.”

“The low retention rates of teachers of color in New York State highlight an urgent need for change. It is crucial that we address this systemic issue and work toward a more diverse and equitable education system for all our children. Immediate action is required to support and retain teachers of color, providing them with the necessary resources and opportunities to excel,” said Samuel L. Radford III, co-chairperson of We The Parents. “In order to ensure a quality education, teacher diversity plays a pivotal role. It is imperative that we take decisive steps to foster an environment where teachers of color feel valued and supported, enabling them to make a lasting impact on students’ lives. Our children’s future hinges on having a teaching force that reflects the rich diversity of our society. It is high time for policymakers to prioritize teacher retention and take meaningful action to cultivate an inclusive educational landscape. By doing so, we can create an environment where every student feels seen, heard, and empowered to thrive.”  

Download the analysis and access the data tool at