Latino educators are a vital part of America’s teacher workforce with unique insights and contributions to share. Understanding those perspectives — along with the specific challenges Latino teachers face — is the first step to better supporting and uplifting these teachers.
Latino students thrive when they see their identities reflected in their educators, and students of all backgrounds benefit from having Latino educators. Even though Latino students make up 25% of all US students and are the largest demographic of students of color, only 8% of public school school teachers are Latino. By recruiting and retaining Latino educators, we can help overcome America’s teacher shortage while increasing diversity in our teacher workforce.
67,000 Latino educators spoke to us through surveys and project data
DonorsChoose makes it easy for public school teachers to request resources for students, giving us singular insights into the exact books, science experiments, and art supplies teachers need for their students. Because we focus support on teachers and students of color, we have one of the largest communities of teachers of color in the country. Latino teachers make up 13% of our active teacher users.
To learn from these teachers’ experiences, we looked at results from our survey of 5,000 DonorsChoose teachers and 23 years of resource request data from the more than 67,000 Latino teachers who’ve shared their demographic information with us.
1. Latino teachers are the most likely of all teachers to see education as social justice work
In our survey, Latino teachers were the demographic most likely to say they started teaching because they see teaching as social justice work. Not only that: Nearly half of all Latino teachers said they entered the profession because they wanted to teach a curriculum that affirms the identities of students of color.
One look at the most popular books among Latino educators, and this passion for social justice and representation was clear.
2. Latino educators expect to stay in the profession longer than teachers of other identities
In that same survey, 66% of male Latino educators and 62% of female Latina educators said they planned to still be teaching in 10+ years. But even with this dedication and longevity, Latino educators are underrepresented, meaning more efforts need to be made to recruit new Latino educators to the field.
We reached out to Latino educators in our community and asked them to share how their identities affect their experience as a teacher. Latino teachers’ passion for affirming their students’ identities again appeared as a common reason behind their dedication.
“I am very proud to be a Latinx educator who gets to work so closely with Latinx students. It has brought me the greatest joy to honor my culture and my people by continuing to better our community by teaching the next generation.“ —Ms. Calzada, Chicago, IL
“In recent years, I've observed a resurgence of challenges related to the acceptance of immigrants, primarily towards people of my heritage, including discrimination from descendants of the same background. Despite these challenges, I remain committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for my students.” —Mr. G, Mission, TX
3. Latino teachers shoulder additional responsibilities because of their identity
Latino teachers reported that they’re often expected to serve as liaisons for families of color, including, for example, serving as translators for Spanish-speaking parents. These responsibilities are often unacknowledged and almost always unpaid, and can contribute to burnout and attrition.
This “invisible tax” is experienced by all groups of teachers of color, though it may manifest differently. In our survey, we saw that in schools where racial tensions run high, teachers of color are much more likely to shoulder additional expectations.
4. Classroom basics, educational kits & games, and art supplies are what most Latino teachers need
Research indicates that funding teacher-requested resources through platforms like DonorsChoose can support teacher retention despite the low-cost of such requests, and that learning from a diverse group of teachers benefits all students. By enabling teacher innovation, improving classroom conditions, and showing teachers that we trust their professional expertise, we can make sure Latino educators and their students have the resources they need to thrive and grow.