Quick fact: Fewer than one in ten teachers in American public schools are Black. In those same schools, almost 80% of those teachers are white. The majority of K-12 students never have a Black teacher. As one of those kids who has seen this phenomenon, I can tell you it is a travesty. Black educators are needed in the school system because they help the self-esteem of Black Kids. All school communities should ensure that Black educators are represented in ways that are helpful to them.
Multiple studies have shown the positive impact of teacher diversity on all learners, but especially Black students. For example, when Black students have at least one Black teacher by third grade, they’re significantly more likely to enroll in college–thirteen percent more likely! And with two Black teachers, that number nearly triples. (National Bureau of Economic Research). So yes, if we hire more Black educators in our public schools, more Black kids will go to college. It also means more Black folk in working systems, including school systems. It’s like an inverse vicious cycle. A… benevolent cycle.
People might think that only Black kids benefit from Black educators, but that’s not true. According to the Washington Post, “University researchers argue that having a teacher of color is beneficial to students of all races, because of the lived experience that comes with being a person of color. Black teachers are able to identify and deconstruct the racial and cultural biases present in school systems, making it more likely that classroom discussions include a social justice orientation.” Racist kids become racist adults. Without Black teachers, Non-Black students in non-Black communities won’t learn from the point of view of someone who is Black andhas more knowledge on certain topics such as police brutality and civil rights movements.
Knowing this information, what are some things you can do yourself? Number 1: Bring attention to the topic. Petitions are a good way to start. Number 2: If you see it, call it out. If there aren’t any Black teachers at your school… ask why. Number 3: Support the Black teachers. Black educators are crucial to the school system and they need our support, in the classroom and in the offices where hiring takes place.