After giving a lunchtime keynote address at the Education Writers Association conference today, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. headed to Gardner Pilot Academy to speak with a group of Boston public school educators about diversity in the teaching force.

Across the country, nonwhite students now outnumber whites, and yet the teaching force remains predominantly white and female. Black male teachers are the most underrepresented group.

King asked the half-dozen teachers for suggestions on how to improve the school experience for teachers of color in order to help raise retention rates and expand the teacher pipeline. He spent most of the 30-minute session listening, but also highlighted pieces of the president’s recent budget proposal that could help (though, as he emphasized, the proposal would need to pass Congress).

The Boston school system has recently made efforts to attract and retain a pool of teachers that looks more like its student body. An initiative called the Male Educators of Color Executive Coaching Program aims to help male educators pursue leadership roles in the district.

Nearly 9 out of 10 Boston students identify as black, Latino, or Asian. As of now, about 37 percent of teachers in the district are teachers of color, according to Ceronne Daly, the director of diversity programs for the district, who led the discussion today. That’s compared to just 17 percent of teachers nationally.

By guest blogger Liana Heitin

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