The San Francisco Unified School District is trying to hire teachers that reflect its student body. At a recruitment event on Wednesday, Feb. 4, prospective African-American teachers and support staff will have the chance to meet principals, submit resumes and get a sense of what working for the district might be like.
"It's an opportunity for African-Americans in the community who want to work with our students to get a one-on-one opportunity to engage with the district, with our administrators and with our human resources staff," said Swen Ervin, a human capital specialist at the district with an emphasis on diversity.
Ervin's job is to reach out to organizations, schools of education and community members to attract more qualified candidates of color to the district. The focus is working -- three years ago the district hired 17 African-American teachers. That number increased to 23 two years ago and peaked at 39 last year. But that doesn't mean those teachers always stay. Ervin says African-American teachers have the lowest retention rate of any demographic in the district.
"A lot of teachers of color experience very high rates of burnout," Ervin said. "A lot of times when they work in diverse schools, whenever something is going on with the students of the community they represent, they are kind of deferred to or burdened with whatever those issues are."
Teachers of color can also feel isolated in their school buildings, unheard as a minority group, Ervin added. His goal is to not only hire more African-American teachers, but to check in on them and make sure they have what they need to be successful. He'd like African-American teachers working across the district to be able to rely on one another for support, but has found it hard to convene meetups because teachers' schedules are already stretched so thin.