DGS staff continues to misrepresent diversity of student body


Illinois Report Card

The DGS teaching staff consisted of 95.9 percent of white teachers, while the student body consisted of 58 percent of white students.

On Sept. 14, 2018 I, Ariel Oh, asked a question that was never answered:

What is our district doing to recruit minority teachers and administrators to support our growing number of diverse students?

Well, maybe it was answered but simply never solved.

In one calendar year, DGS has gone through many changes. From new ice cream freezers to an entire reconstruction plan, the school district has done plenty of busywork in order to improve the look of the building and grounds. But what has changed about our staff?

The answer is not really anything at all.

According to the Illinois Report Card, the 2018-19 school year at DGS consisted of 95.9 percent white teachers, 0.7 percent black, 2.8 Hispanic and 0.3 percent Asian. There is no 2019-20 data, but with such a large percentage of the teachers being white, a couple of new people of color wouldn’t change the numbers much.

0.7, 2.8 and 0.3 percent compared to 95.9? Weak.

I personally believe that connection is an important part of school. Students connect with so many things in school (subjects, sports, clubs, etc.). But I think the most important thing we connect with at school is people.

By having a primarily white teaching staff (or staff in general), teachers might not be able to always recognize cultural differences and provide a “safe” or more welcoming class environment for students. It can be hard for some students to feel comfortable within their class environment as they have nobody to relate or connect to.

With connection comes trust. With trust comes effective learning and a better willingness to learn.

A social studies teacher once told me that people bring their ideas with them — I believe that. Year after year, I would go on thinking that I could only be a certain type of person because of my race. I believe what students see at DGS influences them as young, impressionable teens. What we see is what we know.

How come I mainly see Asians working in the tech department, Hispanics working within security and very few black teachers? While there are teachers of color within the staff, the school re-enforces racial stereotypes as to what a student’s particular race can achieve in the workforce. It shows that we as a society still have many racial barriers to break.

Plain and simple: District 99 needs to do a better job of hiring more people of color and retaining them within the staff.

The root of this problem could be that there are not any open positions, that there is a lack of minority candidates applying to work at DGS or simply that minorities who apply just don’t have the qualifications. Another question I have is what is our staff doing in order to welcome people of color into our school — working as teachers, administrators, janitors, etc.

I have learned through the voices of numerous teachers that DGS is in fact trying to implement more diversity in our school. We have clubs such as Cultures in Alliance, and hold workshops about creating school change in order to include every minority group at DGS. We even have a class available to students based on understanding the origins of racism and what it is today.

However, I feel that if the same people are in charge, and nothing has been changing, that is also a possible problem as to why change isn’t happening. These are exceptional opportunities that were made for students to engage in, but what does that change about our staff?

In 2018, District 99 recruited four minority teachers out of 24 potential candidates. In 2019, they hired eight minority teachers out of 28 potential candidates. Although there was an improvement, the fact of the matter is only 8 minority teachers within DGN and DGS combined isn’t inclusive enough for a teaching staff of over 100 people for both schools.

For example, out of the 12 people in administration, nine are white. 

I will ask you, do you think this represents our student body?

I understand change is difficult, especially when it comes to creating more diversity within a staff of well over 100 people. However, change is necessary in order for students to feel included, recognized and understood, especially since society is evolving to become more aware of race-related issues.

I, Ariel Oh, asked a question that was never answered.

Who will answer it now?