Rethinking The Minority Teacher Pipeline
40% of America’s public schools don’t have a single educator of color
Black students are more likely to attend college if they have a black teacher in grades 3-5
A teacher trainer at a historically black college found that officials were eager to hire her students, but skeptical of the quality of the teacher preparation they’re receiving. This only plays deeper into the fact that 40% of America’s public schools don’t have a single educator of color. This tension prompted Cassandra Herring to recently launch the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, or BranchED, a new nonprofit designed to support minority-serving institutions with teacher preparation programs.
Why This Matters: In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education removed the requirement that teacher preparation programs “maintain a high bar of selectivity” for applicants, a step it said was intended to “allow programs to recruit a more diverse student body.” The challenge of non-diverse teachers is not unique to public schools, experts say, and is shared across institutions of higher education that serve significant percentages of minority students, schools designated by the federal government as minority-serving institutions.
Negative views of such schools are not grounded in reality, according to researchers who study teacher prep programs, but they hamper a pipeline critical to diversifying the teaching workforce, which is 80% white. Even though minority-serving institutions represent just 13% of colleges and universities, they prepare 48% of teachers of color.
A growing body of research finds that the gulf between the races of public school students and their teachers is negatively impacting students of color, who perform better with teachers of the same race. In particular, researchers last year found that black boys who had a black teacher between third and fifth grades were significantly less likely to dropout of high school. Black boys and girls were more likely to attend college if they had a black teacher in grades 3-5, according to the study.
Situational Awareness: “I think we as a country understand that it’s important to diversify the teaching force, but it’s a hugely complicated … issue,” said Herring. Her BranchED program is backed by philanthropists like the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, BranchED is offering support in several ways. The most basic support is sharing resources and increasing awareness through newsletters and a private online community.
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