Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Race Gap Nobody Is Talking About Is in the Classroom


There is actually a much bigger problem here.  We need way more male teachers in elementary school as well.  Children need a supply of role models they are able to identify with.  Teachers happen to be the best source of such.

I also suspect that white teachers should dominate the teaching of  nonwhite students and that nonwhite teachers dominate the teaching of white students.  This can quickly drive the whole assimilation narrative.

This is a radical rethinking, but it also demands a consistent higher quality of teacher to become standard everywhere.
The Race Gap Nobody Is Talking About Is in the Classroom

By Carly Stern

Public school teachers are dramatically less diverse than their students.

For student performance — and well-being — the lack of nonwhite teachers is taking a toll.

John Alcox used to wait outside his kindergarten building before the bell rang. One morning, two older White students emerged from around the corner, yelling a slur at him. “We don’t want you here,” they said. He retorted before the boys slapped his lunch box out of his hand and pushed him to the ground. As the bell rang, the two ran off, and Alcox rose, brushing the dirt off his jacket.

For years, Alcox didn’t tell anyone about this encounter. In kindergarten, he didn’t see many people at school who looked like him: He was one of three Black students in the class at the predominantly White Park Circle Elementary in North Charleston, South Carolina. Ms. Amaker, in second grade, was the only Black teacher Alcox had between kindergarten and seventh grade.

And he noticed. “I became aware [of race] at an early age,” Alcox says, after a long pause. Would he have told his teacher if she were Black? He remains quiet for several moments. “I don’t know. I didn’t even tell my mother.” She would’ve been at school the next day if she’d known, he explains.

Alcox, now 52 and a teacher himself at Carrboro High School in North Carolina, wasn’t an anomaly in having few teachers of color during his early school years. Research suggests that as the student population grows increasingly diverse, the teacher workforce isn’t keeping pace. 

In the U.S., the percentage of nonwhite public elementary and secondary school students is more than double the percentage of minority teachers in those schools.

While 51 percent of public elementary and secondary school students in the U.S. were nonwhite in the 2015-16 school year, 80 percent of their teachers were White, according to 2015-16 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This compares to the 39 percent of all Americans who were racial or ethnic minorities that year, bearing in mind that younger Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than older generations. But this isn’t just an American problem: Only 8 percent of teachers in British public schools were nonwhite in 2016, compared to 25 percent of primary school students. In the U.S., however, it’s gotten substantially worse. In 1987, 13 percent of public school teachers were nonwhite, compared to 30 percent of their students, according to the Pew Research Center.

John Alcox teaching at Carrboro High School.

What’s driving the gap? Teacher preferences could play a role, as a 2011 study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management found that teachers report higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates when supervised by a principal of the same race. Discriminatory hiring practices could also contribute: White applicants for teaching positions were disproportionately more likely to receive a job offer than their Black counterparts, according to a 2017 report in the Harvard Educational Review. And when hired, Black teachers were more likely to be placed in schools with large populations of children of color or in poverty, or in schools classified as struggling. Meanwhile, just one-fifth of public school teachers are nonwhite in public schools, but institutions where 90 percent or more of the student body is nonwhite see that number rise to 55 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Of course, many teachers enter the profession precisely because they want to serve marginalized students. But a “fireman mentality” — particularly when teachers who are undertaking more challenging roles aren’t given adequate support systems — can contribute to burnout. A 2011 study found that turnover for minority teachers was 24 percent higher than for White teachers in the 2008-09 school year. And when there aren’t many nonwhite teachers on staff, the few Black and Latino teachers tend to be shuffled into unofficial disciplinarian roles as liaisons for Black and Latino students, says Michael Hansen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of the Brown Center on Education Policy.

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