By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Citing the need to have Chicago teachers reflect the backgrounds of the students they teach, the mayor and CEO of Chicago Public Schools introduced an initiative to hire 500 instructors a year for city schools.

Called Teach Chicago Tomorrow the program wants to build a long term goal to what it calls a “pipeline” to increase  Right now, CPS hires approximately 140 teachers a year. The goal is to triple that number with more Black and Brown teachers.

“​Teach Chicago Tomorrow​ will build a new network of teachers who look like Chicago kids, come from Chicago communities, and are invested in Chicago neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This is a top priority for our schools and underscores our deep commitment to equity across the district. Although CPS has been working diligently to boost the number of African American and Latinx teachers, there is still a wide gap between the race and ethnicity of students and teachers, as existing recruitment pathways simply aren’t producing enough high-quality teachers of color. We must build our own pathways through smart strategies that tap into an already-interested and invested talent pool.”

The initiative is set to start next school year and “As a district serving primarily students of color, one of the best ways we can work toward a more diverse workforce is providing CPS students who aspire to be a teacher with the structured support they need to realize that dream,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson.

In terms of how the school year will look like Jackson said CPS will make an announcement soon on how the next semester will go, whether the school district will continue with remote learning or have students back in classrooms. She said it will happen “in the very near future.”

“We know that the second quarter is approaching quickly, and we want to ensure that the plan that we put out is as thoughtful as our parents anticipate and so there will be more news coming,” Jackson said. “We want to be intentional about that. There’s a lot of data, most notably the data around health conditions that we’re looking at. We’re also looking at how our students are engaging in the current model.”

CPS said students are being recruited now through city high schools. Part of the process will include having future teachers earn an associate degree at City Colleges of Chicago by finishing general education coursework requirements “and then earn a bachelor’s degree by completing the second two years of college as a Illinois State University student.”