2024 Diversity & Equity in Education Campaign
Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., speaking at Howard University, March 8, 2016, quoted in a 2016 DOE Study
“Without question, when the majority of students in public schools are students of color and only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, we have an urgent need to act. We’ve got to understand that all students benefit from teacher diversity. We have strong evidence that students of color benefit from having teachers and leaders who look like them as role models and also benefit from the classroom dynamics that diversity creates. But it is also important for our white students to see teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities. The question for the nation is how do we address this quickly and thoughtfully?”
Go Beyond “Checking the Box”
Building a diverse school is not simply a matter of hiring one Black teacher and considering the diversity box “checked.” Rather, it’s important to consider that one of the key factors to retaining quality teachers of color is helping to ensure that they don’t feel isolated and/or tokenized. Take a broader look at your hiring and seek to fill multiple positions with quality teachers from a range of diverse backgrounds, and build in opportunities for Black teachers to network with one another, and with other teachers across the district and/or community.
- Research shows that black teachers may better respond to challenging behaviors of Black students, and also hold higher academic expectations of Black students
- Hiring more black teachers is only part of the puzzle; schools and districts must also be creative in efforts to support retention by boosting professional development opportunities and fostering a culture of community and camaraderie
- Recent data shows some years more teachers of color leave the profession as opposed to enter it, so the time is now to figure out better solutions
Hire and Retain Black Teachers
The critical events of the spring of 2020 have brought renewed focus and support to Black Americans, but educational leaders have long known that this group of individuals is important—and also undervalued and underrepresented in the classroom.
If you’re looking to improve hiring at your school this year by recruiting more Black teachers, you’re absolutely on the right track. The data is clear and concerning—Black teachers are more likely to leave the teaching profession than White teachers, and that high turnover means schools are missing out on the assets that Black teachers alone can provide.
As reported by the Center for American Progress in 2017, “a recent study found that African American teachers are less likely than white teachers to perceive African American students’ behavior as disruptive. Likewise, when a black student has both a nonblack teacher and a black teacher, the black teacher tends to have a much higher estimation of the student’s academic abilities than the nonblack teacher. In both of these studies, the reverse did not hold true: Perceptions of white students’ behavior and academic ability were similar regardless of their teacher’s race.”
While this data points to the clear need for
White teachers to get additional support to address bias in the classroom, it also highlights that Black teachers can be powerful allies to students of color. But, despite the value they add, Black teachers more often report feeling isolated and alone, which can lead to high turnover rates.
When interviewing a potential teacher candidate, provide opportunities for Black teachers to bring in real world examples of ways they may have helped connect with students of color who were struggling. In addition, do your back end homework to ensure your school or district is not inadvertently dissuading Black teachers from applying. For example, check your teacher dress code policy, and make sure you don’t have any outdated standards about hairstyles (“no dreadlocks, no braid” etc.) that are inappropriate and discriminatory.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
This spring’s event is coming right up, on April 13th from 10 AM to 1 PM, CST, so hold your spot now to get in a good position to fill vacancies and help improve your school’s diversity at the same time.