Wake schools struggle with teacher diversity gap

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The Wake County Public School System says it's fully aware of the diversity gap in its classrooms.

The Wake County Public School System says it's fully aware of the diversity gap in its classrooms.

A district spokesperson says its shortage of minority teachers is a concern for the district and school districts across the country. But given the spate of racially-charged incidents at Wake schools this year, some suggest the district should intensify its minority recruitment efforts and staff training.

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In north Raleigh, Craston Artis isn't just dad, he's a former school teacher turned education consultant with two sons in first and third grade, respectively, in Wake County. Neither one has a black teacher this school year.

"It's definitely a concern of mine. Particularly with black boys," Artis said.

The shortage of black teachers is an issue statewide. Just 13 percent of educators in North Carolina are African-American.

Wake County couldn't provide its racial breakdown for teachers by our deadline, but the district acknowledges a diversity gap in its teacher workforce.

"There are strong recruitment efforts but you have to go beyond that because overall the teacher pool is shrinking," Artis said.

The racial disconnect between some teachers and students brought to light again in a new Snapchat video from Apex Middle School where a white school teacher is caught on camera using the "n-word" during an analogy with a black student where he compares the seventh-grader to a slave.


This Apex teacher was suspended. And so was Micah Speed's teacher. Speed is the black Wake Forest High sophomore who retaliated against a white classmate's racist bullying that the district says his white teacher didn't do enough to stop.


A Wake School spokesperson points to the district's initiatives to recruit a more diverse workforce. But Artis says putting more black teachers in front of more black students is not a silver-bullet strategy.

"It's not a magic solution. You're still going to have a majority white workforce," Artis said. "And those teachers are going to need a strong understanding of what it means to teach students of different cultures. And it's not that the majority of them aren't willing. I'm sure they are. They just don't necessarily have the training or exposure to the kind of information they need."

Beginning next school year, every WCPSS staffer will be required to undergo racial equity training.

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