The share of students of color in Pennsylvania is growing far faster than the diversity of the state’s teaching force, resulting in one of the widest gaps in the country, according to a new report.

While students of color make up nearly 37% of Pennsylvania’s public school enrollment — up from 30.5% eight years ago — among teachers, that figure is only 6.2%, an increase of less than a percentage point over the same period, according to the report by Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based education research group that has been tracking teacher diversity in the state.

And in Philadelphia — where most of the state’s teachers of color are concentrated — the number of Black teachers has actually been shrinking, the report found. The city has 1,200 fewer Black teachers compared with 20 years ago, though the overall number of teachers — 12,000 — hasn’t changed. (While the school district historically has employed more Black teachers than charter schools, which make up one-third of the city’s public school enrollment, the current share of Black teachers in the two sectors is similar, with 23.5% in the district and 24.1% in charters.)

The number of city teachers in all other race and ethnicity subgroups has grown, according to the report, which was released as part of a teach-in last week calling for more attention to the issue.

“Black public school educators in Philadelphia have grown weary, for good reason,” said Camika Royal, an associate professor of urban education at Loyola University Maryland who spoke at the event. Royal, author of the forthcoming book Not Paved for Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia, noted both recent and historic trends — including that Philadelphia had fewer Black teachers in 2009, a decade into the state takeover of city schools, than it did in 1964.

Black teachers who stay, Royal said, “are often typecast and undervalued” — expected to be disciplinarians, surrogate parents and mentors, often without recognition or extra pay, their intelligence underestimated or dismissed.

Research shows that all students benefit from having teachers of color. But for students of color, the impact can be heightened — resulting in higher expectations for success, reduced absenteeism, and greater representation in Advanced Placement and gifted and talented courses, among other outcomes, according to the RFA report.

Pennsylvania has sought to recruit more teachers of color. In 2019, the state announced a program to be piloted in Philadelphia subsidizing tuition for aspiring educators at some area universities. Educators have also urged school districts to use federal pandemic aid to help diversify their teaching forces.

But the state’s teaching pipeline is “leaking,” the RFA report said, tracing a diminishing number of students of color from high school through teacher preparation programs in college: While 36.6% of Pennsylvania students are of color, less than 31% of high school graduates are of color. Among college-bound graduates, students of color make up 27%.

Less than 14% of teacher preparation candidates in Pennsylvania are students of color, who then make up just 11.8% of graduates of teacher prep programs.

Sharif El-Mekki, founder of the Center for Black Educator Development, said Pennsylvania has not been as quick as other states to pay attention to the lack of diversity in its teacher pipeline.

“We came to the table much too late,” said El-Mekki, whose organization is part of the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium, and who is a former principal at Mastery Charter Shoemaker in West Philadelphia. “For a long time, there were a lot of people saying, ‘This is important,’ but it was never prioritized.”

In 2017-18, 20.7% of teachers nationally were of color, the RFA report found. And while the nation as a whole has a more diverse student population than Pennsylvania — with 52.4% students of color, compared with the state’s 36.6% — the gap in representation between teachers and students is far greater in Pennsylvania. The state’s share of students of color is nearly six times as great as its share of teachers of color, while nationally, it’s only 2.5 times greater.

Statewide, 1,400 schools — half of the total — and 178 districts, or 36%, employed no teachers of color last year, according to the report.

It found that Hispanic teachers are particularly underrepresented in the state. While 13% of Pennsylvania students are Hispanic, only 1.1% of teachers are. Among other groups, 14.4% of Pennsylvania students are Black, compared with 3.8% of teachers; 4.2% Asian, compared with 0.7% of teachers; and 4.8% other, compared with 0.6% of teachers.

Pennsylvania must “quickly try to do some course corrections, and do it in concert with others — including our youth, and policymakers,” El-Mekki said. “When it’s just a superintendent or just a secretary of education saying, ‘We want it,’ it doesn’t happen. Everyone has to say, ‘This is important for our city and state, not just important for our district.’”