Exploring Diversity in the Early Care & Education Workforce


The nation’s population is more diverse than ever before. Children of color are a majority among the birth to five population, and approximately 32 percent of young children speak a language other than English at home.

A growing body of research is finding that students benefit from having access to teachers that share their cultural, racial, and linguistic background. For instance, Black boys who have just one Black teacher between third and fifth grades are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to attend college. And dual language learners experience long-term academic benefits from participation in programs that support the continued development of their home languages and English.

The early education workforce, while almost exclusively female, is racially, ethnically, and linguistically more reflective of the children it serves than the K-12 workforce: 37 percent of center-based teaching staff are people of color and 27 percent speak a language other than English. In K-12 public schools, 77 percent of teachers are female and 80 percent are white. Eighty percent of elementary school principals are white as well. But greater racial and linguistic diversity in the early education workforce is present mostly in the lowest levels. The field is bifurcated, where those in leadership positions are more likely to be white and monolingual English speakers.

How can policymakers reduce stratification in the field and increase educator diversity? What implications do calls from the field to raise qualification requirements for early childhood educators have on the diversity of this workforce? How can we create pathways and supports to ensure that higher education and training are truly accessible for all members of the workforce?

Join New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy team for an event exploring answers to these questions. A panel discussion will highlight the latest research on teacher diversity, including a forthcoming report by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and The Education Trust on focus group research with teachers of color. Panelists will discuss best practices and policy solutions.

Tentative Agenda:

Arrival & Opening Remarks

Abbie Lieberman, New America

Panel 1 - Practitioner Voice

Laura Bornfreund, New America (moderator)

Maria Potts, Family Child Care, Fairfax, VA

Maria Martinez, Greenbelt Children's Center, Greenbelt, MD

April Torrence, Zion Education Center, Sharon, PA

Danny Vasquez, ACCA Child Development Center

Audience Q&A

Panel 2 - Policy & Practice Implications

Shayna Cook, Bainum Family Foundation (moderator)

Amaya Garcia, New America

Carrie Gillispie, The Education Trust

Lucy Recio, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Audience Q&A


Follow the conversation online using #diverseECEworkforce and following @NewAmericaEd.