Studies have repeatedly shown that Black students learn best when they are taught by Black teachers (“Want to Support Black Students?” Invest in Black Teachers,” Time, Aug. 11). That’s not surprising because teachers and students share a similar culture.
Black teachers also hold Black students to higher standards than their White counterparts. That’s important if we want to avoid shortchanging them in the name of equity. Yet Black teachers are harder to recruit and retain than in the past because there are far more opportunities for them in the private sector.
When I was working on my California teaching credential at UCLA in 1963, I became close friends with a recently retired major in the Air Force. As a Black officer, he had several lucrative offers in the corporate world but decided on teaching. Too bad there are not more like him.
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2 Replies to “More Black teachers needed”
I’m reluctant to ever endorse hiring preferences based on race — other than obvious bona-fide-occupational-qualification situations like hiring a black actress to play the role of a black woman. It just goes against the entire concept of Title VII/non-discrimination.
Suppose that research shows white students learn better from white teachers or female students from female teachers or male students from male teachers or low-income students from low-income teachers or gay students from gay teachers? Do school systems set up complex hiring models to match these preferences? How about Catholic students from Catholic teachers or Jewish students from Jewish teachers? How about teenage male students from sexy female teachers or teenage female students from sexy male teachers?
Also — assuming that the research is correct + that your supposition (that black teachers have higher standards than white teachers, at least for black students) is correct, perhaps the reason that black students learn better from black teachers is NOT the teachers’ black race but rather the teachers’ higher standards. That would make sense. It would also follow that the trick is not hiring black teachers but rather encouraging all the teachers to have higher standards.
Labor Lawyer: Excellent points. I had long believed that a teacher’s subject matter and pedagogical expertise far outweighed race in student outcomes. Why race is so important to Black students in particular is hard for me to understand.