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REL Midwest launches partnership with Minnesota to support a diverse educator workforce

Midwest | July 12, 2022

Educators in conversation

Students of color who have teachers from the same racial or ethnic background experience important social, emotional, and academic benefits. These benefits include improved test scores, attendance, high school graduation rates, and social and emotional well-being.1 Moreover, these benefits continue over time and extend to students from other racial and ethnic backgrounds.2

Minnesota public schools are working to increase teacher diversity as one way to address persistent race-based opportunity gaps in education outcomes. Although 34 percent of the state’s public school students identify as people of color or Indigenous, only 4 percent of teachers do.3 National data indicate that teachers of color and Indigenous teachers make up a greater proportion of all new teachers. However, as they continue along the teacher pipeline, that proportion decreases.4 Research has shown that teachers of color report feeling unsupported by school leaders, isolated, or overloaded by receiving sole responsibility for serving the needs of students of color in their school.5 Together, responsive school leadership, supportive professional networks, and mentorship have the potential to improve the educator experience and school culture across Minnesota.

Partnering to increase educator diversity in Minnesota

To respond to the needs of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers, REL Midwest and school districts in Minnesota have formed the Supporting Inclusive and Diverse Educator Environments (SIDEE) partnership with support from the Minnesota Department of Education, the state teachers’ union, and the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota. The partnership’s goal is to develop an approach that schools can use to cultivate and sustain a culture and working conditions that increase the retention of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers.

The four main components to the SIDEE approach are as follows:

  1. Training for school leaders and staff on cultural proficiency.
  2. Continuous leadership coaching on building an inclusive school culture and supporting teachers of color and Indigenous teachers.
  3. Providing teacher peer support through affinity groups.
  4. Developing connections between teachers and mentors of the same racial and ethnic background.

These components aim to systematically improve the work environments not only for teachers of color and Indigenous teachers but also for all teachers.

Looking ahead

Over the next five years, the SIDEE partnership’s work will progress through several phases. Initially, REL Midwest will collaborate with a set of Minnesota school districts to develop, test, and refine the SIDEE approach. As the work progresses, the partnership will expand to have more school districts implement the SIDEE approach. REL Midwest then will test how school leaders and teachers experience the cultural proficiency training, continuous leadership coaching, affinity groups, and mentorship provided through the SIDEE approach. Throughout the process, REL Midwest will share important takeaways, resources, and policy implications.


1 Dee, T. (2004). The race connection: Are teachers more effective with students who share their ethnicity? Education Next, 4(2), 52–59.; Dee, T. (2005). A teacher like me: Does race, ethnicity, or gender matter? American Economic Review, 95(2), 158–165; Egalite, A. J., & Kisida, B. (2018). The effects of teacher match on students’ academic perceptions and attitudes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40(1), 59–81.

2 Egalite, A. J., Kisida, B., & Winters, M. A. (2015). Representation in the classroom: The effect of own-race teachers on student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 45, 44–52; Egalite, A. J., & Kisida, B. (2018). The effects of teacher match on students’ academic perceptions and attitudes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40(1), 59–81.; Gershenson, S., Hart, C. M., Hyman, J., Lindsay, C., & Papageorge, N. (2018). The long-run impacts of same-race teachers [NBER Working Paper Series, No. 25254]. National Bureau of Economic Research.; Lindsay, C. A., & Hart, C. M. D. (2017). Teacher race and school discipline. Education Next, 17(1), 72–78.

3 Minnesota Department of Education. (2020a). Equitable access to excellent and diverse educators.; Wilder Research. (2019). 2019 Biennial Minnesota Teacher Supply and Demand.

4 U.S. Department of Education. (2016). The state of racial diversity in the educator workforce.

5 Dixon, R. D., Griffin, A. R., & Teoh, M. B. (2019). If you listen, we will stay: Why teachers of color leave and how to disrupt teacher turnover. The Education Trust & Teach Plus.; Brockenbrough, E. (2015). "The discipline stop": Black male teachers and the politics of urban school discipline. Education and Urban Society, 47, 499–522.; Griffin, A. (2018). Our stories, our struggles, our strengths: Perspectives and reflections from Latino teachers. The Education Trust.; Griffin, A., & Tackie, H. (2016). Through our eyes: Perspectives and reflections from Black teachers. The Education Trust.


Carol Felicio

Carol Felicio

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