Teacher diversity at Redwood
February 6, 2020
The disproportionate relationship between teacher and student racial diversity applies to Redwood and the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) as well. During the 2017-2018 school year at Redwood, 86.1 percent of all teachers were white. There are currently zero black teachers at Redwood and only a few teachers of other ethnicities.
To address the lack of racial diversity on the teaching staff, the district wants to include more minorities early on in the recruitment process, according to Christensen.
“Having a greater appreciation for the challenges people of color have particularly in a pretty white society is helpful…Last year, [for] example, we went with an East Coast recruitment platform called Nemnet, and they specialize in attracting underrepresented candidates to various school districts. We were unsuccessful in securing any teachers through them, though,” Christensen said.
Even though the district is focusing on increasing racial diversity among its teachers, there are very few job openings and low financial resources.
“It is easier said than done, and we’re not hiding behind that. We are actively working to find ways to attract candidates to this area,” Christensen said. “There’s a certain level of discomfort by stepping into an affluent white community. You don’t like to think so, but that’s the reality, and we’re working on ways to overcome that.”
Special Education teacher and former Redwood student Faye Kwan experienced this discomfort when interviewing for a job for the TUHSD.
“I will say for me, coming back here, my interview was probably one of the most nerve-wracking interviews I’ve ever had. There was only one person of color on my panel of 12 people, and it really made me uncertain of how much I could be myself or what the racial consciousness was of this area,” Kwan said.
Some people, as Christensen used to, choose to be “colorblind” to provide an equal judgement toward all races. However, as he continues to learn new lessons every day and undergo racial consciousness training, he has found it more beneficial to see color.
“By quote, ‘not seeing color,’ I don’t think I was giving appropriate attention to the challenges that people of color face in this world society,” Christensen said. “But I’d be lying if I said [the racial diversity among teachers] has yet to completely translate into different numbers. The efforts are there, but the results aren’t.”