Maryland’s teacher workforce is predominantly white. The Blueprint plan aims to diversify.


Racial gaps persist between Maryland students and teachers as the workforce continues to be predominantly white, according to demographic data presented at a Maryland State Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

State education officials are prioritizing retaining a highly qualified and diverse workforce as a part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the state’s education reform plan that infuses billions of dollars into public education. More than 63,200 teachers were employed as of October 2023, the most recent data available. More than two-thirds of teachers were white.

The number of Black and Hispanic or Latino teachers has slightly increased over the past five years, but rates remain at 20.4% and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, the gap between the percentage of students of color and the percentage of teachers of color statewide is 36 percentage points.

All school districts must increase starting teacher salaries to $60,000 by 2026, a Blueprint initiative that seeks to make Maryland more competitive nationally.

The Baltimore City Public School System has one of the most diverse student populations in the state at 93%. It also has the second-highest percentage of teachers of color at 61%. But there is a racial gap between students and teachers of 31 percentage points. Prince George’s County, which has the most students of color in Maryland, also has the most teachers of color, nearly 80%. Its racial gap is 17 percentage points.

Baltimore County Public Schools has one of the largest racial gaps between students and teachers at 46 percentage points. About 70% of BCPS students are of color compared with just 24% of teachers.

Cindy Sexton, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County union, said recruitment and retention is a priority of the district but more work needs to be done.

“Our students must see themselves when they look at their educators and all the staff at their school,” Sexton said. “We need to do a better job of reaching out to those teachers who aren’t white.”

Somerset County Public Schools had the largest racial gap at 52 percentage points, followed by Wicomico and Howard counties.

Although teacher vacancies have declined compared with the previous school year, there are not enough incoming teachers to cover the gap in vacancies.

“The teacher pipeline has been drying up for years,” Sexton said. “We’ve seen this coming on the horizon, and now, it’s here.”

More than 19% of Maryland teachers did not return to teach at the same school during the 2023-24 school year, and more than 12% didn’t return to the same district.

New teachers are the most likely to leave the profession, said Chandra Haislet, the state’s assistant superintendent, at Tuesday’s meeting. Attrition rates were highest for Black teachers.

The percentage of first-year teachers who are Black Hispanic or Latino has doubled over the past decade to 30% and 8%, respectively. More than half of first-year teachers are white. About 4% of first-year teachers were Asian.

Baltimore City schools had the second-highest attrition rate in the state at 17%. Baltimore County’s attrition rate was 13.8%.

Cristina Duncan Evans, teacher chair for the Baltimore Teachers Union, said it’s disappointing but not surprising that city schools have a high attrition rate.

“Baltimore City teachers work in the most challenging environments in the state without many of the supports our colleagues in other districts have access to,” Evans said in a statement. “District leadership has been largely unresponsive to educators’ concerns about workload, climate, and student supports, leaving many Baltimore City educators to leave for other districts, or leave the classroom altogether.”

A city school spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, said recent laws aim to increase teacher diversity by training educators who are from Maryland, not imported from other states.

Gov. Wes Moore signed a law last month creating a “grow your own” program that allows teaching assistants, who have a more diverse workforce, to count their experience in the classroom toward student internships that are required as part of a teaching license.

The Blueprint plan also provides scholarships for teaching fellowships, one of several initiatives Bost believes will attract more educators.

“It’s making that path easier and more affordable,” Bost said. But new initiatives have yet to come to fruition. “There’s a lot in the works.”

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