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CHICAGO — In December 2019, Chicago Public Schools called a community meeting where many addressed concerns about lack of diversity in the district’s faculty.

Nearly a year later, CPS is launching a new initiative called “Teach Chicago Tomorrow.” The initiative aims to both boost faculty diversity as well as encourage district students to pursue teaching careers.

For 2nd grade CPS teacher Daniel Jackson, having more diversity in faculty can help students find mentors more easily. Jackson said when he was a CPS student, not seeing any Black male teachers meant there was not anyone there to point him to a career in education.

Jackson said telling his students about the initiative made many of them excited.

“They were like ‘you know what Mr. Jackson, I want to become a teacher,'” Jackson said.

In a district where nearly 90% of students are non-white, half of the 22,000 teachers are white.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the numbers don’t match up with Chicago’s diversity.

“Our teachers have to be drawn from the richness of the community that makes up CPS,” Lightfoot said.

CPS Superintendent Janice Jackson believes the initiative will help current students far beyond their years in the classroom.

“For students of color in particular having a teacher of the same race or ethnicity has a lasting impact on them. It impacts their attendance rate, their test scores as well as their graduation success,” Jackson said.

CPS said they currently hire 140 CPS graduates as teachers each year, but the new initiative plans to hire 500 graduates annually.

To hit the initiative’s goals, CPS is creating a path for graduates to become teachers. Counselors will mentor students who are interested in teaching, and the district will partner with City Colleges of Chicago and Illinois State University.

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