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Protesters Pressing for More Minority Hiring in District 117

Updated: Wednesday, August 20 2014, 12:20 PM CDT
DISTRICT 117 - A small group of protesters is picketing the Jacksonville School District office this week. Their chief complaint is diversity among the ranks of teachers.

"It makes the students feel like black teachers don't exist. I think it would heighten self-esteem among the black students if they saw black professional faculty," Protester Doris Robinson said.

Here's the breakdown; of around 250 teachers, the district's superintendent, Steve Ptacek, tells us one is mixed race, one is black, and one is Hispanic. That means minorities make up 1.2 percent of all teachers in District 117, but he says minority students make up 20 to 25 percent of the districts population.

"It is concerning that we don't have equal representation. Equal representation might not just be about percentages but a representation of successful adults, of which educators are, that our students can look up to," Ptacek said.

Protestors outside Ptacek's office carry signs with newspaper articles. Those articles, dated more than a decade ago, cite the same problem in the district that's happening now. Protestors say that shows minority hiring has clearly not been a priority.

"We talked at length about it, and the superintendent let me know that he didn't think that was a really serious problem," Robinson said.

Robinson says she would be open to volunteering her time to help bring more minority teachers to the district. Ptacek says he's willing to accept her help, especially since the district has struggled to recruit any teachers to the district.

"There is an issue with minority candidates, both statewide and nationwide. The issue in Jacksonville is that we're having a problem with teaching candidates regardless of race," Ptacek said.

Currently the district has three teaching positions open. Ptacek says he would love for qualified minority candidates to apply for those openings.
Protesters Pressing for More Minority Hiring in District 117

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