The race of teachers and student learning

Do students learn best when their teachers are of the same race? (“Teacher Diversity and Learning,” The New York Times, Sep. 23). That seems to be the widespread assumption. But I question it.

It’s based on the belief that all teachers of the same race bring the same  attitudes to class about their students, whether of the same race or of a different race. Stereotyping teachers is the real problem. The truth is that no race is a monolith.  Students of color are no more alike than white students.  By the same token, black teachers are no more alike than white teachers.

I’m not saying that greater efforts shouldn’t be made to increase teacher diversity.  As I pointed out in a letter to the editor published in The New York Times on Sep. 23, nonwhite teachers leave the classroom at a higher rate than other teachers because of a lack of support and collegiality.

In the final analysis, however, knowledge of subject matter and excellence in pedagogy are more likely to translate into instructional effectiveness than race alone.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “The race of teachers and student learning”

  1. As with most diversity discussions, the more important diversity is economic diversity rather than racial or ethnic diversity — or, more specifically, socio-economic-status diversity.

    Seems likely that teachers who grew up in low-SES inner-city neighborhoods will be more effective teaching in low-SES inner-city neighborhoods than teachers who grew up in high-SES suburban neighborhoods — other factors being equal.


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