California Educator Diversity Road Map: Community-Informed Policy Strategies

Research shows that students derive both social-emotional and academic benefits from a diverse educator workforce. The state has taken notable steps to prioritize a more diverse educator workforce in recent years. These include:

  1. convening a California Department of Education (CDE) Educator Diversity Advisory Group, tasked with offering recommendations on recruiting and retaining greater numbers of educators of diverse backgrounds;
  2. establishing coursework alternatives to standardized tests that have historically served as a barrier to access for candidates of diverse backgrounds who want to enter the teaching profession; and
  3. making significant investments in teacher residencies and financial supports for teacher candidates.

Nonetheless, the state has not yet established a clear vision and comprehensive action plan to recruit, prepare, and sustain an educator workforce whose diversity reflects that of California’s students.

To help set a statewide agenda, Californians for Justice (CFJ), The Education Trust–West (ETW), and Public Advocates (PA) partnered to develop a community-informed educator diversity road map. We reviewed research about educator diversity, including the recommendations issued by the CDE Educator Diversity Advisory Group, and compiled a list of proposals for the state on how to recruit, prepare, and retain educators of diverse backgrounds. Next, we recruited students, parents, educators, and administrators to participate in focus groups to discuss these proposals and offer insight and feedback. Although the focus group participants, particularly students, highlighted the need for and importance of an educator workforce that reflects the myriad identities that students hold, the primary foci of their input, and thus of this road map, were about how to recruit and retain more educators of color and multilingual educators. In addition, we use the term “educator” to primarily focus on teachers but also include school leaders, classified staff, and other adults who work with students in our public schools.

After conducting focus groups and reviewing community feedback, we distilled six key recommendations that emerged from our conversations and offer several ways that the state, LEAs, and schools may implement these recommendations.


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.