At the most recent Baldwin Board of Education meeting, trustees voted unanimously to broaden recruitment efforts to hire a more diverse teaching staff and “bring multiple perspectives into the classroom, respect differences and prepare our students to live in a global community.”
The board sent a statement to the Herald saying the new policy reflects “an ongoing commitment” to “exposing students to a range of cultures through activities, literatures and experiences.”
Regarding hiring for diversity, the board said, “Not only is it the right thing to do, but providing a more expanded view of the world also provides a better educational experience.”
“Diversity and inclusion [are] essential in all endeavors, especially in education,” wrote Lonnie Hart Jr., who took to social media to support the district’s new diversity-hiring goal. “Teachers and administrators should reflect the demographics of the school district they work in.”
The Baldwin School District student population is 47 percent Black, 32 percent Hispanic or Latino, 13 percent white, 5 percent Asian or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 3 percent multi-racial. But teachers of color comprise 9 percent of 376 full-time teachers in the district, with 21 Black, nine Hispanic and four Asian-American teachers, according to the latest State Department of Education data.
Baldwinite and parent of school-aged children Mark Prevatt viewed the board’s amendments positively, saying, “Long Island has a long history of discriminatory hiring in education, and we’re only now just beginning to see both an acknowledgement of and direct actions against such practices.”
While students of color have doubled in Baldwin over the last 20 years, the number of teachers of color has not, reflecting a Long Island-wide trend in public schools. According to a 2019 study published by Hofstra University, in 2017, 92 percent of Long Island teachers were white, “leaving minority and white students alike with few, if any, diverse role models that an increasing body of research has identified as important for their success.”
Lina Osorio, whose children graduated from the Baldwin district, also expressed her approval of the new priority, saying greater diversity in the teaching ranks would have benefitted her children. “I had several encounters with teachers and administrators that left me begging for them to have some kind of diversity training,” she noted.
When the Herald requested information from the district about initiatives to attract and recruit a more diverse staff, the message received was, “There are no documents in the school district’s possession.”
The district follows State Education Department hiring and recruitment policies, including requiring state certification, proof of fingerprinting, candidate interviews with school stakeholders, classroom observations and reference checks. They rate candidates on a five-point scale on perceptions of authoritativeness, personability, leadership, overall impression and alignment with organizational culture.