ISBE launches program to retain teachers of color

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — On Tuesday, the Illinois State Board of Education announced the creation of 43 affinity groups in an effort to retain teachers of color.

ISBE worked with Regional Office of Education (ROE) 51 Sangamon-Menard, Teach Plus Illinois, and the Golden Apple Foundation to create the Affinity Groups.

Teachers will be trained to facilitate groups to engage educators of color to build a community of support and explore current issues within the teaching profession. The groups will meet monthly in a variety of settings both in school districts and their communities.

“The surest way to address the teacher shortage is to keep the great teachers we have,” said state education superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “As an educator of color myself, I understand how isolating this can be for our teachers of color, who are often the only leaders of color in their schools. Affinity groups provide a healing space to network, foster a sense of community, and work together to solve common problems. Illinois is a diverse state with a diverse student population. Teachers of Color are powerful role models for all students, and if we retain more of our Teachers of Color, everyone benefits.

The ISBE said it began reporting the three-year teacher retention rate broken down by race or ethnicity in 2021. The data they reported shows Illinois is retaining black teachers at the lowest rate of all. groups of teachers with black teachers at 80.6% against the rate of 87.6% for white teachers.

“It’s been amazing to help connect teachers and Golden Apple professionals through our community. My goal is to create a support system and an open, safe space for our teachers and professional leaders to relate , to release and recharge in efforts to continue the difficult but necessary work that we all do every day,” said Kayla Goodloe, Job Coach at Pavilion School in Urbana School District 116.

The ISBE hopes these affinity groups will help retain teachers and meet the high demand for educators in Illinois.

If you are a color teacher in Illinois, you can register by filling out a form on

Interested in knowing more? You can see a complete list of affinity groups, districts, and geographies on the Teach Plus Illinois Affinity Group Network web page.

Ryan H. Bowman