A new U.S. Department of Education report finds black students make up 9.3% of the student population in private K-12 schools, a much lower percentage than they represent in public schools, according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
The report found that 32,000 private schools were operating in the U.S. in the 2017-2018 school year. The schools enrolled nearly 4.9 million students and employed 482,000 teachers.
African American students made up 6.9% of Montessori school students and 7.6% of students in Catholic schools. At private schools that serve special needs students, black students accounted for 18.5% of the student population.
As more students of color trickle into the nation's private and charter school systems, the need for more minority teachers in these institutions also grows.
Research finds minority students benefit when taught by a teacher that shares their race. For example, if African American students have a teacher of the same race during their K-3 years they are 7% more likely to graduate high school and 13% more likely to go to college than those who did not.
In North Carolina, the number of black students that go to charter schools is equal to the number that go to public schools, but charter schools have 35% more black teachers. This may give charter schools in that state a recruiting tool to attract minority students.
For many years, the teacher diversity gap in public schools was declining among both baby boomers and Generation X. However, newer research points to a reversal of this trend. An analysis in Millennial Teachers of Color found that millennial teachers are becoming less diverse, despite the fact that they are the most diverse generation to ever enter the workforce.
Experts say this trend may be explained by the fact that students of color often finish college after five or six years, while their white peers typically finish in four. Therefore, they are entering the workforce a little later in life.