By Anya Kamenetz, NPR's lead education blogger
There are more nonwhite teachers than there used to be. But the nation's teaching force still doesn't look like America. One former education school dean is out to change that.
New research shows that the number of K-12 teachers who belong to minority groups has doubled since the 1980s, growing at a faster rate than the profession as a whole. But big gaps persist, with around 80 percent of teachers identifying as white.
Meanwhile, the need for minority teachers is especially glaring since people of color now make up about half of enrollment in public schools. And a growing body of research suggests that these students benefit greatly from the "role-model effect" of having teachers who look like them.
Cassandra Herring first confronted this issue as the dean of the school of education at Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia. She left that position, and the security of academia, to found a new nonprofit that has just launched, called The Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity or BranchED. They are aiming programming at the 253 educator-preparation programs at federally-designated colleges and universities that serve African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.