America Succeeds recently released our latest report, Advancing Equity in Education, where we expand on the five pillars of our Equity in Education platform, detailing where systems change is both needed and can be impactful. Our report curates some of the best ideas in the field, amplifies leading voices of color in the conversation, builds consensus, and presents actionable solutions to address these challenges. This blog is all about the first pillar of our Equity in Education platform: recruiting and retaining educators of color.
Year after year, finding great educators to fill classroom vacancies is a difficult, ongoing struggle for many districts across the country, particularly in schools serving high numbers of disadvantaged students. Numerous studies have pointed to having access to quality teachers as being the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, and schools are missing out when they can’t draw from a pipeline of well-prepared teachers ready to lead. Furthermore, only 19% of teachers are educators of color and only seven percent identify as Black, while 54% of the public school K-12 student population identifies as non-white.
The underrepresentation of teachers of color is a serious problem. Studies continually show that having a more diverse educator workforce – one that is reflective of the students they serve – improves student outcomes. Students are more likely to experience higher academic achievement, higher graduation rates, and have a greater likelihood of attending college. A Johns Hopkins University study determined that having at least one Black teacher reduces a Black student’s likelihood of dropping out of college by an average of 29% (and 39% for low-income Black boys!).
Yet, finding diverse educators to fill these vacancies – from entering into the profession to begin with to making it a career worth staying in – continues to be a major challenge. Compounded with barriers to entering the teaching profession, one in five educators of color annually leave their school or the teaching profession entirely.
If we want to help all students succeed, we need teachers of color to enter and stay in the profession. Creating proactive recruiting strategies that encourage people of color to pursue teaching and providing support for them to stay in the educator workforce long-term is not only in the best interest of every school and student – it’s also an economic imperative.
Recruiting and retaining more educators of color would provide a positive return on investment, fueled by greater economic growth as overall student outcomes improve and students in those classrooms graduate high school and head to college at higher rates. As this happens, businesses will become more diverse and more innovative, and our economy will flourish.
To find out more and join the coalition to increase equity in education, visit us at www.AmericaSucceeds.org