SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) _ The Sioux City school district is struggling to hire more minority teachers for a workforce that reflects growing diversity in the student population.
The Sioux City Journal reported ( ) Tuesday that 96 percent of teachers in Sioux City are white.
Superintendent Paul Gausman said that lack of diversity is troubling, considering that only 56 percent of the district’s students are white. Twenty-nine percent of students are Hispanic.
The problem starts with the candidate pool, he said.
“It’s not that we have a diverse candidate pool, and we are only hiring Caucasians,” Gausman said. “Our candidate pool does not have the diversity we would like to make choices.”
Isaiah McGee, of the Iowa Department of Education, said it’s a common situation throughout the state. Although nearly 93 percent of Iowa’s population is white, the percentage of minorities has grown significantly recently in some communities, including Sioux City.
In the 2011-2012 school year, 2.2 percent of Iowa’s 33,938 teachers were minorities. That’s an increase from the 1.4 percent of minority teachers in the 2000-2001 school year.
State officials noted the lack of minority teachers during the accreditation process for the district, and administrators have been asked to make the hiring of minority teachers and support staff a priority, McGee said.
“We are not going to cite them or put them in a negative position, but there is an expectation that an effort is taken,” McGee said.
Counselor Jennifer Gomez said that effort is important. Having a diverse staff is crucial because it helps build connections with students and creates positive role models, Gomez said.
“For me, as a Hispanic woman, I feel I serve as a role model. I can show there are opportunities out there,” she said.
In an effort to be proactive, the district intends to introduce more minority students to the education field through what officials call a “career cluster program.” By exposing students to the field, they hope more will opt for education training in college and return to Sioux City as teachers.
Information from: Sioux City Journal,