WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. teachers are nowhere near as diverse as their students.
Almost half the students attending public schools are minorities, yet fewer than 1 in 5 of their teachers is nonwhite.
New studies from the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association are calling attention to this "diversity gap" at elementary and secondary schools in the United States. The groups want more to be done to help teachers more accurately mirror the students in their classrooms.
Teachers are always pushing their students to excel, said Kevin Gilbert, coordinator of teacher leadership and special projects for the Clinton Public School District in Clinton, Mississippi.
It becomes easier for students to believe "when they can look and see someone who looks just like them, that they can relate to," said Gilbert, a member of the NEA's executive committee. "Nothing can help motivate our students more than to see success standing right in front of them."