A state senator from Will County decried the lack of diversity among teachers in Illinois after hearing from education advocates.
During a virtual meeting Wednesday, State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, heard from teacher union leaders about the lack of teachers of color in the state, according to a news release. Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, chair of the Senate Education Committee, also participated in the meeting.
They heard from John Cusick, the legislative director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, who said there is a direct connection between educator preparation and the effort to address systemic racism.
Cynthia Riseman Lund, also with the IFT, said the pool of teachers in Illinois has become less racially and ethnically diverse and more female, which could have an "adverse effect" on students, including male students of color.
Teachers in Illinois are about 82% white and 76% female, according to the state's 2019 report card.
“Today's testimony revealed a dreadful cycle," McGuire said in the release. "A paucity of Black male teachers restrains student achievement, yet Black males seeking to become teachers encounter many impediments in pursuit of a teaching degree."
The meeting also focused on how access to financial aid for prospective teachers could help them finish college and enter the profession.
"Thank goodness we learned today that there are remedies," McGuire added. "Our task now is to put them in place."