Unit 5 superintendent accepts blame for lack of minority teachers


Jerry James of Normal addressed the Unit 5 School Board about the district’s failure to boost hiring of minority teachers. (Photo by Howard Packowitz/WJBC)


By Howard Packowitz

NORMAL – The Unit 5 school district was taken to task Wednesday night for the lack of minority teachers, and the superintendent is inclined to agree with the criticism.

Jerry James, a 20 year resident of Normal and member of the local NAACP, told the school board it’s completely unacceptable that minorities have made up only about three percent of Unit 5 teachers the past decade even as Bloomington-Normal becomes an increasingly diverse community.

“It appears that we’re providing lip service. We’re providing paperwork to define what the board wants to do when we establish goals, but we’re really not taking any action to move those goals forward,” said James.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said the district has to be more “purposeful” in the way it hires teachers, and fundamental changes are needed in determining who gets interviewed for teaching jobs.

“Being at three percent for the past 10 years, we need to move that needle, and we haven’t. That’s on me, and I need to be very specific about how we’re going to address that,” said Daniel.

The superintendent said Illinois State University provides an outstanding pool of teachers, but minority graduates want to teach close to home, which is usually is the Chicago area.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz@cumulus.com