‘1000 by 2025’ Initiative: Jacksonville’s Answer To Schools’ Biggest Diversity Problem

By Rachael Tutwiler Fortune You hear it said often: Representation matters.

Representation means everything to a child. And it can look like almost anything, from a doll that looks like your young daughter to your son having a favorite teacher from his own socioeconomic or racial background.

Unfortunately, the U.S.’s own labor officials report that only about one in five teachers are people of color, compared to more than half of K-12 students in the nation’s public schools.

That comparison inspired a unique program in Jacksonville and Duval County, where 70 percent of the district’s students are racial minorities and 52 percent are from economically disadvantaged households. The lack of representation is compounded for young boys of color, who make up about 30 percent of the student body in Duval County.

Only about 10 percent of the county’s teachers are Black or Hispanic men.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund and Duval County Public Schools aim to change that with the 1000 by 2025 Initiative, which has an ambitious goal: To add 1,000 male Black and Latino teachers to Duval County’s faculty roles by 2025.

Since the initiative’s kickoff in 2021, it has shown success. Since 1,000 by 2025 began in 2021, the number of Black male and Latino teachers has increased by 12%, According to JPEF officials, Duval County hired 93 male teachers of color for the 2022-2023 school year and 62 in 2024-2024.

Of the original 540 diverse male teachers in 2021, 71% are still employed by the school district––showing that the programs’ retention efforts are working despite the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation and the loss of diverse teachers to retirement, resignation and termination. It should be noted the 35 are no longer teachers, most having been promoted.

School district officials are not deterred.

“Considering the overall teacher shortages we are seeing across the nation, we are fortunate to be maintaining our current percentage of diverse male teachers,” Victoria Schultz, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, said in a statement. “While we have made progress toward our recruitment goals, we must make extra efforts to maintain our existing highly effective teachers.

The teachers in question see firsthand the difference it can make for students to have teachers who know and understand them.

Dimas Vidales, a Latino educator in Duval County, said teachers who mirror student demographics are vital to the children’s learning.

“Who better than a Latino teacher to instruct students of the same background? Making the connections during instruction makes it all more relatable and intrapersonal,” Vidales said. “Students need educators who could add that extra touch of understanding and sensitivity in a culturally responsive classroom.”

Rasheed Reed knows that the students are not the only ones who benefit from diversity efforts. Reed, who sought a career change while working as a security guard in Duval County’s schools, now teaches 5th grade.

He made the move to ensure that students had a teacher they could relate to.

“I really want to make sure they are heard,” Reed said. “The more and more I teach, I want it to be more of them and less of me.”

To learn more about the 1000 by 2025 Initiative, visit teachduval.com.

Rachael Tutwiler Fortune serves as President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, an independent think-and-do tank working to close the opportunity gap by activating community support, connecting partners, and advancing effective ideas for student success

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