About the Project

How can we build stronger pathways for more people of color to enter the education workforce and remain in the profession?

In California, students of color represent approximately 77% of our K-12 population; in contrast, teachers of color represent only 37% of the teaching force. Not having a representative sample of racially diverse adults with decision-making power is a disservice to the students and larger learning community. Diverse educators bring with them diverse ideas, perspectives, practices, beliefs, and values that can enrich and expand the culture of the school and its ability to adequately serve its diverse student population.

Diversifying the teaching profession has enormous benefits for students. When students of color have teachers of color, they perform better across a range of academic outcomes. Educators of color serve as role models and mentors, and bring cultural competency to the work.

We are leading a series of studies examining equity gaps and opportunities across the educator pipeline to help better recruit, prepare, develop and retain a talented and racially diverse workforce. In collaboration with educators, students, researchers, and higher education leaders and state agencies, the California Educator Diversity Project highlights promising models while shaping future policy priorities for the Golden State.

The California Coalition for Educator Diversity

The California Coalition for Educator Diversity was established by UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools to support the work of the California Educator Diversity Project. The Coalition is a collaborative effort brought forth by researchers, practitioners, and advocates committed to advancing teacher diversity, humanizing practices, and equity in schools. Our collective mission is to diversify the California educator workforce by amplifying and elevating evidence-based and equity-centered policy, practice, and research.


Cathy Balfe

Graduate Student Researcher, UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools

Cathy is a Graduate Student Researcher at the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) and is pursuing a JD at UCLA School of Law. Prior to starting law school, she worked as a Research Analyst at CTS, working primarily on the California Educator Diversity Project. Cathy is passionate about generating accessible and useful research that focuses on addressing systemic barriers to equity in education. Before joining CTS, Cathy worked at Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, where she conducted quantitative and qualitative research seeking to understand how education policy changes impact historically marginalized students both in New Orleans and nationally. Her work has covered a variety of topics, including identifying barriers to racial equity in the teaching profession, early childhood application patterns, schools’ responses to the COVID-19 school closures, and the equity implications of admissions policy changes in the New Orleans public school system. Cathy holds a BA in Economics from Tulane University.

Kai Mathews, Ph.D.

Project Director, California Educator Diversity Project, UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools

Dr. Mathews is the CA Educator Diversity Project Director at the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. She is an educator, researcher, and creative strategist who is passionate about innovative reforms and practices in K-12 education. She has over 10 years of practical work and research experience with students, teachers, and administrators in various school districts around the country. Most notably she has worked as a Coordinator for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), was a researcher for the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education, and worked as an 8th grade Humanities teacher at High Tech High in San Diego. Her areas of expertise and passion include educational equity, culturally responsive teaching and learning, Project Based Learning (PBL), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Blended Learning (BL) and design thinking. Dr. Mathews has a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a specialization in K-12 education from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in Communication from Ellis University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Spelman College.

Betina Hsieh, Ph.D.

Interim Chair of College of Education at California State University, Long Beach

Dr. Hsieh is a true believer in the importance of connecting theory and practice. Her teacher education work is informed by her 10 years of urban middle school classroom teaching experience (in the English, Mathematics, and Social Studies classrooms), her several years of literacy coaching (K-12), and her work as co-director of the Bay Area Writing Project. Dr. Hsieh anchors her practice in a strong theoretical framework as well that is particularly influenced by such scholars as hooks, Freire, Dewey, Heath, Freedman, Schon, and the New London Group, among others. Because of her personal and professional background, she is strongly committed to equity in urban schooling. Current research interests include the emergence and development of a teacher professional identity, the development of cross-content literacy practices (particularly in the age of the common core standards) and the development and uses of 21st century literacy practices in schools and universities.

Margarita Jimenez-Silva, Ed.D.

Courtesy Affiliate, Visiting Scholar/Faculty/Researcher at Arizona State University

Margarita Jimenez-Silva is an associate professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on preparing teachers to work with English learners, especially as it relates to teacher education pedagogy and curriculum. Her other research strands include Latino parent engagement and narrative studies. Her research has been published by journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Childhood Education, and the Journal of Research on Childhood Education.
Professor Jimenez-Silva has traveled to and coordinated curriculum and programs addressing the needs of English language learners in the U.S., as well as in Mexico, Panama, and Hungary. She is active in her community serving on various school boards and speaking on behalf of English learners and their families. Prior to entering higher education, Professor Jimenez-Silva worked with Newcomer students as a middle-school teacher in Oakland, California. She began her work with pre-service teachers at Concordia University in Irvine, CA. She is herself a former ELL from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.

Christa Koppuzha

Research & Data Analyst

Christa Koppuzha (she/her/hers) was raised by Indian immigrants who instilled the value and power of education in her from a young age. Throughout her academic career, she became aware of the potential of literature as a tool for social justice. She later sought to create spaces for her students to explore their identities and challenge dominant structures as an English and English Language Development Teacher in Richmond, California. While she was a teacher, Christa saw the glaring inequities present in the education system and worked with a local education policy non-profit to explore the disparities in a-g achievement among English Language Learners and propose a policy change to the West Contra Costa School Board. Her interest in the intersection between education and policy led her to the Education Trust–West, where she served as the School District Engagement Intern under the Educator Engagement Team. Christa continued to explore systemic practices that further education equity while pursuing her Master’s in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. During graduate school, Christa worked as a graduate student instructor and served as a policy consultant for the Alameda County Office of Early Childhood Education, the Oakland Mayor’s Office of Education, and the UC Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools. She is excited to return to The Education Trust–West as a Research and Data Analyst. She earned her B.A. in English and International Development from the University of Florida.

Reino Makkonen, Ph.D.

Senior Research Associate

WestEd Senior Policy Associate Reino Makkonen is a senior researcher with two decades of experience studying teacher workforce issues and school and district leadership across Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. His work involves developing and validating interview, survey, and observation instruments and evaluating educator development programs via mixed methods.
His recent technical assistance efforts with state and district leaders have focused on developing theories of change for new educator support initiatives, designing implementation and formative evaluation plans to monitor early indicators, and expanding the use and application of research evidence.
Prior to joining WestEd, Makkonen spent several years developing, implementing, and studying early literacy curricula with Houghton Mifflin. He holds a masters degree in educational policy analysis from Harvard University and a doctorate in educational measurement and evaluation from University of California Berkeley.

Christine Ong, Ph.D.

Research Scientist at UCLA CRESST

Christine Ong is a Research Scientist at CRESST. Having worked in the field of educational research and evaluation for over 10 years, she currently co-directs an evaluation of the STEM Teacher in Advanced Residency (STAR) program at California State University Dominguez Hills, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. She also leads CRESST evaluation efforts on the Mobilize project, an innovative computer science initiative for high school students, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and serves as an advisor to the Exploring Computer Science project at the local and national level. Prior to her work at CRESST, Dr. Ong worked as a research analyst at First 5 LA and participated in the planning and dissemination of several large-scale evaluation studies, including the Los Angeles Universal Preschool Child Outcome Study (UPCOS) and the LA County Healthy Kids Insurance evaluation. She began her career in education as an early childhood teacher and museum educator.

Vincent Stewart

Vice President for Policy and Programs for Children Now

Vincent Stewart serves as the Vice President for Policy and Programs and in this role oversees Children Now’s policy and research work and leads the organizational assessment of our programmatic efforts as measured by progress on key indicators aligned to our project goals. In addition, Mr. Stewart provides leadership for Children Now’s Education Team and for our education policy agenda, TK-12 through higher education. For nearly two decades, Mr. Stewart has been an advocate for public education, K-12 through post-secondary, and was appointed by both Governors Brown and Schwarzenegger to senior education policy positions.
Prior to joining Children Now, Mr. Stewart was the Vice Chancellor for External Relations for the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest system of higher education. He managed both state and federal governmental relations, as well as strategic partnerships with philanthropic organizations. Mr. Stewart came to the Chancellor’s Office from The James Irvine Foundation, where he served as a Senior Program Officer with the Youth Program and managed a grant portfolio in excess of $13 million that was focused on the alignment of secondary and postsecondary education and preparing all students for both college and careers. Mr. Stewart is a graduate of UC Davis, where he earned a baccalaureate degree with a double major in economics and political science.


Prioritizing Educator Diversity with New State and Federal Funding

This 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.

A Funding Guide to More Diverse Schools in California

This funding guide is a public resource for educators and districts committed to diversifying the educator workforce and meeting the needs of diverse students.

Voices from the Classroom: Developing a Strategy for Teacher Retention and Recruitment

Details results from a survey of 4,632 TK-12th grade teachers in California, revealing alarming findings related to job satisfaction and future outlook, teacher retention, and diversity & inclusion within the school work environment.

Forthcoming Studies

Six Barriers to Racial Equity in Teacher Education Programs

This paper aims to uncover the challenges and struggles teacher candidates of color experience in their teacher education programs (TEPs), and highlight the systematic and persistent racial inequities within California’s educator pipeline. Adopting a mixed-method approach, this paper aims to answer the following research questions: What factors impact the racial climate within TEPs in California? What are the experiences of people of color in TEPs in California?

Teacher Education Deserts

This brief will provide an analysis of enrollment trends in California teacher education programs (TEPs) over the past six years and how TEPs are geographically distributed throughout the state. Additionally, it will assess how the distribution of TEPs may impact the teacher shortages experienced by districts and counties around the state.

Humanizing the Teaching Profession

This paper will examine the responses from from teachers of color within our 2022 survey on their experiences of racial discrimination at school sites.


Get Real!: Designing Teacher Preparation Programs for the Realities of Teaching

Project Director Dr. Kai Mathews presented “Get Real!: Designing Teacher Preparation Programs for the Realities of Teaching” and led residency teachers and administrators in a brainstorming session at the 2023 CA Teacher Residency Lab Annual Symposium.

Making Teaching Possible for BIPOC Candidates

Dr. Kai Mathews presented as part of The California Coalition for Educator Diversity at California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE)’s Spring 2023 SPAN Conference.

Six Barriers to Racial Equity in Teacher Education Programs

CTS California Educator Diversity Project research team presented at AERA 2023.

CA Educator Diversity Coalition