This policy brief highlights opportunities for recruiting, preparing, and retaining more educators of color in California, including increased support for teacher residencies, fee waivers, teacher grants, and early childhood education funding.

California, which is the second most diverse state in the country, is making significant strides to attract and retain educators of color. According to the California Department of Education, currently 77% of K-12 students in California are non-white, while only 37% of the teacher workforce is comprised of individuals of color. This prominent diversity gap reveals that California’s educator workforce largely does not reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of its student population. To reap the many benefits of having educators of color on our campuses, in our classrooms, and in front of our students, deliberate actions and investments must be made to foster a culturally diverse and robust K-12 workforce.

In the summer of 2020, California’s state budget included $123.9 billion (comprised of a $65.5 billion General Fund and $58.4 billion in other funds) for all K-12 education programs—the highest level of funding in the state’s history. When combined with the billions of dollars in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, California’s education system has a unique opportunity to strategically support a more diverse and sustainable workforce, while also addressing the state’s dire teacher shortages.