Racial Diversity in Teaching

An article by Shoffana

The education sector, just like other lines of work, have promised anti-bias and anti-discrimination policies for hiring teachers in school environments. However, this action is not providing the expected results. In fact, little to no change is seen.

This can be reflected through the representation of racialized teachers in post-secondary environments. When looking at the census data from “Visible Minority Identification by Occupational Group,” it highlights a meniscal difference between racialized teachers employed from 2006 and 2016, with non-racialized teachers still being the overwhelming majority. In 2016, racialized teachers accounted for about 21% of all university teachers and 14% of all college teachers (CAUT, 2018, p. 6). This trend is seen as rather consistent across all levels of education including early childhood education.

The number of educators of color are quite disproportionate to the number of racialized students. This poses several risks when it comes to a predominantly white teaching staff. For one, it means that the content is taught with the underlying beliefs and attitudes of the educator, and presuming that the educator is white, it means that the knowledge is taught from a Eurocentric perspective. Eurocentrism proposes a racial imbalance as information is conveyed from the ideals of North Americans or Europeans, who are made to be seen as more superior or important over racial minorities (Ugwuegbula, 2020). Another risk lies in the disconnect between these non-racialized teachers and racialized students. It can be hard for students to resonate with school content and engage easily with their teachers. Race brings familiarity. Similar to how a celebrity of the same upbringing or race as yourself brings inspiration, an educator of color can serve as an idol for racialized students. It provides a sense of relief that they can achieve their desired goals and gain a worthwhile experience in learning.

With the conversation of teacher employment, the issue with anti-bias hiring practices in Canada is that it reinforces the approach of colorblindness (Abawa & Eizadiradb, 2020, p. 20). This approach tries to erase the problem of racism itself, by acknowledging that everyone is treated and regarded as equals. Many people can be deceived by this approach as it implies a sense of fairness by only looking at a candidate’s merit or achievements. However, color blindness is quite a backwards mindset since this desire to see everyone as the same means disregarding any institutional/systemic barriers.

After all, a person's race can unfortunately determine the level and quality of education that they obtain. When we look at the United States for instance, it can come in the form of unequal academic opportunities where schools with primarily racialized students tend to be given fewer resources and thus are more likely to be placed in lower-academic streams. Meanwhile, schools with White students being the dominant group are provided with more academic resources and are likely to enter higher-academic streams and even accelerated pathways like Advanced Placement (AECF, 2006, P. 3). This, in particular, decreases the likelihood of racialized students pursuing higher education and becoming teachers.

The reason why information from the United States must be drawn upon is the lack of available Canadian information that draws connections between student success and race (Robson, 2018). Like gender and age, race is a factor that can dictate a student’s performance in the academic setting. Yet, national-level discussion of education policy tends to emphasize the likes of income in relation to race. The hole in information must be addressed first. By having access to this data, we can gain a better understanding of the role of race on both educators and students while adjusting education hiring policies to account for racial inequality. After all, race does not affect just students but also teachers.

Works Cited

Robson, K. (2018, December 12). Why won't Canada collect data on race and student success? 


Brighter World. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://brighterworld.mcmaster.ca/articles/why-wont-canada-collect-data-on-race-and-student-success/


Ugwuegbula, L. (2020, July 2). The role of education in perpetuating racism and white 

supremacy: Rethinking the eurocentric curriculum. Samuel Centre For Social Connectedness. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.socialconnectedness.org/the-role-of-education-in-perpetuating-racism-and-white-supremacy-rethinking-the-eurocentric-curriculum/


Underrepresented & underpaid - CAUT. Canadian Association Of University Teachers. (n.d.). 

Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut_equity_report_2018-04final.pdf


Why equal opportunity is important barriers to equal ... Th eAnnie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.). 

Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://assets.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-racemattersEDUCATION-2006.pdf 


Zuhra, A & Ardavan, E. (2020). Bias-Free or Biased Hiring? Racialized Teachers’ Perspectives 

on Educational Hiring Practices in Ontario. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 193, 18–31


Take action

Connect with us

Address: 2425 Eglinton Ave E, Suite 214, Scarborough, ON M1K 5G8

Special Thanks to Our Funding Partners

Ontario Trillium Foundation
Status of Women Canada