Educators of color bring numerous benefits to students while facing daily challenges
- In an opinion piece for The Hechinger Report, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., and Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, call attention to the various challenges that teachers of color — who represent fewer than 20% of U.S. teachers — face, and why it's crucial to address them.
- A report from the Learning Policy Institute illuminates the various positive effects teachers of color have on students of color, including higher graduation rates, lower drop-out and suspension rates, and more interest in going to college. White students also benefit, becoming more likely to talk about bias and racism in their classrooms, which benefits all students.
- Despite the impact they have on students, many black and Latino educators feel that they're not valued, finding frustration at being expected to take on extra duties without compensation or even the necessary support systems. As a result, teachers of color give up their careers more often than white teachers do.
Experts suggest several actions can be taken at the district level to encourage and support teachers of color. Districts can hire for the upcoming school year earlier, in order to maximize the available pool of diverse candidates. To facilitate that, districts may incentivize current educators to file for planned retirements or transfers in early spring.
Once those teachers are brought onboard, the next step is to offer comprehensive support early on, which may include professional development, mentoring, and ongoing coaching and feedback. It can also pay off to partner with local universities in setting up a student teaching program for diverse aspiring educators. Another tactic is to coordinate a teaching residency, similar to a medical residency, with the partner university.
According to a report from The Brookings Institution, additional benefits to a more diverse teaching workforce may include higher expectations for minority students and racially diverse teachers having more cultural sensitivity, even translating into an instructional context that minority students are better able to relate to.
In Louisville, Ky., an academy specifically for middle-school males of color will open this fall. The DuBois Academy represents a novel approach to closing a long-standing racial academic achievement gap in the area. The community has high hopes for it.
In Detroit, meanwhile, the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project was just announced, offering mentorship for at-risk African-American and Latino boys. The program will assign the boys role models who look like them — a scenario they don't typically find with their teachers. While in the Detroit public schools, 65% of teachers are African-American, only about 20% are male. Benefits are conferred to students of color seeing role models who look like them in their school buildings regularly, even if they don't have those people as teachers.
- The Hechinger Report We Aren't Doing Enough to Support Teachers of Color
- Learning Policy Institute Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color
- Insider Louisville Louisville's Males of Color School: Hope in an Academic Crisis
- Brookings The Many Ways Teacher Diversity May Benefit Students
- Chalkbeat Detroit district announces mentorship program for at-risk boys of color