WESTBURY, Long Island (WABC) -- It is a problem only made worse by the disparities in public education created in this pandemic - according to a recent study at Hofstra University, far too few teachers of color are represented in public schools on Long Island.
In fact, the research at the National Center for Suburban Studies looked at 642 public schools and found as many as 61 percent had no Black teachers at all, and 43 percent had no Latino teachers.
"If this were a story in Mississippi or Alabama, I'd say, 'Well, it's the vestiges of Jim Crowe,' but this is up on Long Island," said Larry Levy.
Black educators tell Eyewitness News that if school boards do not act now, it will only get worse, with more of the older, minority teachers at higher risk for COVID.
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"So many are retiring, and really retiring in droves," said Brandy Scott of the Long Island Black Educators Association.
In doing the study, Hofstra also interviewed dozens of minority teachers and administrators., They say they have no mentors, and some even used the word 'isolated' to describe their situation.
The biggest downside is fewer role models, particularly for young boys.
"If they had a teacher of color, particularly in the third or fourth grade, they were more likely to stay in school, not be suspended," added Scott.
For districts like Westbury, where more than 70 percent of students are Latino, the superintendent cites progress, otherwise the problems would be crippling.
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"Actually, most parents who have kids at school don't speak English as a second language. It's a big barrier," says Westbury parent Melissa Valerio.
Researchers are just hoping the state will soon reward districts who embrace diversity because as things stand right now, 212,000 Long island children will never even see a Black teacher in school.
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Here's what a new study shows about diversity at Long Island public schools
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