Minnesota schools' racial disparity: Local org tackles teacher diversity gap

According to a Minnesota state report, more than 36% of students in Minnesota identify as students of color. But only 6% of the teacher workforce is diverse. It's a disparity that one local organization has been tackling for 15 years.

Marcus Berg is a history teacher at Breck School in Golden Valley. He's worked here for three years.

"My journey as a student led me to be passionate about the classroom," said Berg during an interview with FOX 9. And his journey wasn't always easy.

"I had a very unstable childhood where I missed a lot of school growing up," said Berg.

Enrolled in special education in grade school, he went on to earn a degree from Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school.

"I worked hard, right? But at the same time none of that is possible without doors opening up for me, adults seeing potential in me," said Berg.

Through an organization called Teach for America, Berg landed here. It works to recruit and retain diverse educators.

" I think that there’s always a need for more diversity. We always need more voices in the room," said Berg.

"I often say to folks, teaching is the hardest job that you will ever love," said Mikisha Nation, the executive director of Teach for America Twin Cities.

From the achievement gap to the workforce, Nation says that racial inequities persist in the Minnesota School system.

"Having those conversations in Minnesota is especially critical given the challenges that we face with education equities and disparities," said Nation.

"If we don’t have organizations that are encouraging teachers, educators, and systems to make those changes it leads for us to continue to make mistakes that we’ve seen for generations," said Berg.

Nation believes that Berg is proof of what is working.

"I don’t want my story to be the lucky story. I don’t want my story to necessarily be a new story. I want my story to be this is what the system does for kids and not the exception, that’s what drives me. I want to make the change," said Berg.

On April 28, Teach for America will hold its fourth annual diversity, equity, and inclusion keynote. "Exposing America's invisible scaffolding" will feature an intimate conversation with New York Times best-selling author and Pulitzer prize winner Isabel Wilkerson.