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Across the entire United States, there aren’t nearly enough Black teachers inside classrooms. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, less than 7% of teachers nationwide are Black; only 1.5% of teachers are Black men. That is a problem because a Black Teacher Pipeline is a force for equity for all students, especially the Black students who have been historically marginalized.
The Impact of Black Teachers on Student Achievement and Perceptions
Students of all backgrounds who miss out on Black teachers lack exposure to their content knowledge and pedagogical praxis, which is often influenced by their desire to support all students, particularly students they see themselves in.
In addition, a 2016 study showed that students perceived Black teachers more favorably than white teachers. When students say that, they are telling us something about the quality of learning and support they are receiving from Black teachers.
Moreover, Black teachers support the academic achievement of all students, and Black students in particular. Black students who have had at least one Black teacher are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and are less likely to drop out of school. Black students are also less likely to receive exclusionary discipline at the hands of a Black teacher.
Recognizing the Influence of Black Teachers on Student Perceptions and Achievement
According to the same 2016 study, students perceived Black teachers (more than their White peers) to hold students to high academic standards, to support their efforts, to help them organize content, and to explain ideas clearly and provide feedback. The study also showed that Asian American students preferred Black teachers even more than did Black students.
Although some continue to question whether Black teachers make a difference for students, research provides a definitive answer: Black teachers matter. Yes, teacher quality is important; however, qualitative researchers have long observed (e.g., Nieto, Ladson-Billings, and Warren) and recent causal relationships found by quantitative researchers (e.g., Ouazad, Egalite, and Gershenson) point to the “added value” for students of color taught by teachers of color.
Knowing this research, what are we going to do about recruiting Black teacher candidates, getting them hired and keeping them inside classrooms?
Introducing the Black Teacher Pipeline: Paving the Way for Future Black Educators
Today, we take another step toward answering that critical question. Today, the Center for Black Educator Development will launch the Black Teacher Pipeline. We launch with the support of many partners, including the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Spring Point Partners, Alice Walton through the Walton Family Foundation, and Education Leaders of Color.
The Black Teacher Pipeline will be a national educational justice campaign and will offer the Black Educators of Excellence Fellowship, a new fellowship program in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), to recruit and financially and professionally inspire and support the next generation of Black educators across the country.
With this initiative, we’re not reinventing the wheel. Rather, we’re building on the rich work of scholars and practitioners with the hope of contributing a model that can be replicated by school districts and advocacy organizations alike.
Identifying and Addressing Critical Leaks in the Black Teacher Pipeline
Why launch a Black teacher pipeline that is both expansive and comprehensive? Because the pipeline, as it stands, is in need of repair.
A foundational leak in the current pipeline is caused by the over-disciplining of Black students. Why would Black students desire to become teachers if they associate teaching with their experiences of suspension and possible arrests?
Another leak is created by both the high cost of teacher certification and biased performance testing. These “initiation” procedures cost more money, take more time, and require the teacher aspirants to do more work—all of which could deter low-income and minority teacher candidates who were already faring worse, on average, on the less rigorous state-administered certification tests.
There are also many forms of the invisible tax that facilitate the departure of Black teachers from the profession. Rather than being utilized for their content expertise, Black teachers are often relegated to serving as disciplinarians. When evaluated for their teaching, Black teachers receive lower scores than white or Latinx teachers. According to a 2019 study, Black teachers are less likely to get a low evaluation score in schools with more Black colleagues, but the overall shortage of Black teachers guarantees that many works in environments where they have few colleagues like themselves.
Comprehensive Approach: Filling the Gaps in the Black Teacher Pipeline
This Black Teacher Pipeline looks to address these leaks and more.
The Black Teacher Pipeline will engage Black high school and college students as teacher pre-apprentices, sponsor them through fellowship, apprenticeships, and scholarships, and support them with mentorship and professional learning opportunities through their first four years in the classroom.
In the spirit of Philadelphia 76ers legend Moses Malone’s Fo, Fo Fo, championship prognostication, this pipeline will offer apprentices support during their four years of high school, their four years of college, and their first four years in the teaching profession.
With our partner organizations, this national campaign aims to codify and expand clinical and virtual ‘to and through’ strategies. Additionally, it will create affinity spaces for students across the country to interact with each other during their journey into the teaching profession and through certification. Our goal is to collaborate with partners to develop scalable methods. These methods will enable communities nationwide to create their own Black Teacher Pipeline consortia, showcasing effective practices for emulation.
This initiative is about building an even stronger pipeline with no leaks.
Those Black students who join the Black Teacher Pipeline will benefit from our partnership with the United Negro College Fund. The partnership involves the Black Educators of Excellence Fellowship Program, which establishes a tuition scholarship fund for teacher apprentices. This is all to deliver on our mission to dramatically increase the number of Black teachers.
Aspiring for Impact: Transforming the Future of Black Education
Our goal for this campaign is to bring at least 21,000 Black students into the teaching pipeline. Our goal is to recruit 9,100 teachers over a 12-year program in 10 communities nationwide. We’re starting this spring with ten Philadelphia-based students. They will be the recipients of the inaugural Black Educators of Excellence Fellowship scholarship awards.
It is also our goal that this campaign will inspire thousands more prospective Black educators. Additionally, we aim to impact school districts indirectly through outreach and dissemination of promising practices.
This work is critical to the education of Black children nationwide. We owe it to Black families who entrust schools with the care of the persons of the most value. Their children. With this initiative, we hope to express to those parents that we, too, value their children.
Now, let’s get to work.
Join us. If you are interested in supporting this initiative, signing up your organization to partner with us, or if you’re looking for more information, you can reach out to us at this link.
Publisher Note: This article was originally published on EdPost. To view more articles like this, click here.