You may have heard that the Worcester public schools are considering a strategic plan, on which public hearings are tentatively scheduled to be held July 19 and Aug. 23.

Having covered public education in this city for years, I have a healthy skepticism of such plans, which I have generally found to be less valuable than the paper on which they are written and as enduring as the period between annual budgets.

I am particularly unmoved by one aspect of this new strategic plan - its commitment to recruit a diverse workforce.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a worthwhile goal, particularly when you compare the diversity of the Worcester public schools staff with that of comparable urban districts. In comparable districts, 48 percent of educators are minorities. It is only 16 percent in the Worcester schools, a system in which minorities make up 70 percent of the student population.

That is beyond scandalous.

Yet, it would appear the city is quite comfortable with paying lip service to diversity, while holding tightly the status quo, and in so doing has fashioned a legacy of resistance to diversity that one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the county.

Let’s take a peek at that legacy.

In 1977, the city created an affirmative action plan that was never acted on. It was sent to the law department for review and never seen again. In 1993 another plan was adopted and for a while gave some in the community the hope that things were beginning to change.

Prior to its adoption, there were 160 minority employees working in the school system. But by October 1976, the minority staff had climbed to 361, or about 10 percent of the overall school workforce.

Yet, the huge gap between minority staff and the minority student population continues, leading the School Committee in 2007 to create an Affirmative Action Advisory Committee.

The late Ogretta McNeil, a former School Committee member, noted at the time that 10 of the district's elementary schools had an entirely white staff, and that 31 of the district’s 33 elementary schools had staffs that were 80 to 100 percent white, as did a majority of the systems secondary schools.

Minority students at that time made up 58 percent of the system’s student population.

This equation has not changed much since. In 2008, according to state data, there were approximately 398 minority teachers out of total teacher population of 2,831. In the 2017-18 school year, it was 483 minority teachers out of population of 3,271.

Most disconcerting, however, is that the 2017-18 figures represent a decline from the previous school year, when there were approximately 512 minority teacher positions out of a population of 3,216.

It would appear that we are going backward, which is a statement in itself, considering that this is coming after the city’s 2015 race dialogues, when more lip service was paid to diversity.

So, yes, this current strategic plan does nothing for me, and I am not the only one who feels this way.

Former School Committee member Hilda Ramirez, who understands only too well the level of resistance to diversity in the city, outlines several outcomes she would like to see before she starts believing that this time it’s for real.

The city, she said, should involve community members in the recruitment and hiring process; establish a residency requirement for teachers hired to work in the city; involve a diversity and inclusion staff in the hiring process; identify and certify existing minority teacher assistants as teachers, recruit individuals in disciplines other than education and create an intensive one-year teacher-residency program for them; recruit from other urban areas such as California, New York, Connecticut and Puerto Rico; and work with Worcester State University to create a one-year master's degree in teaching, as is currently offered at Clark University and Harvard.

Those are indeed steps that could move us toward the strategic plan’s modest goal of increasing the diversity of new hires by 25 percent by 2023.

But those steps will only be taken in good faith if there is a desire for change and political will to drive that change.

Up to this point and on this issue both have largely been absent.