N.J. teachers don’t mirror racial, gender makeup of student population, report says

A kindergarten teacher and her students at KIPP Thrive Academy, are pictured in this file photo, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Newark, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

A kindergarten teacher and her students at KIPP Thrive Academy, are pictured in this file photo, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Newark, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

The gender and racial makeup of New Jersey’s teaching workforce does not resemble the state’s student body, according to a report released Monday.

Researchers at the progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, which published the report, said the demographic imbalance could have negative effects in the classroom.

“It really does matter that students have teachers who look like them, that we have a teaching workforce that is as diverse as the student population in the state,” said special analyst Mark Weber, who wrote the report. “We really don’t have that right now.”

According to the report, 66% of New Jersey teachers are white women, but only 22% of students are white and female.

More than half of students are minorities, the report found, yet just 15% of educators are people of color.

Weber said the state could correct the racial imbalances by making it easier for teachers of color to join the workforce.

“But we also have to think: If you are a qualified person of color, is the incentive there — the economic incentive — for you to come into teaching, for you to want to make this a career?”

The report also found that New Jersey teachers are paid less than similarly educated workers, even when taking into account educators’ pensions and benefits.

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