You See What Happens When Our Children Have Black Teachers?

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May 16, 2019

Having a Black teacher can make or break our youth, according to a new report from Johns Hopkins University.

Using data from Tennessee schools, the study found that Black students who had Black teachers in early grade school were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college than their peers in the same school who did not!

Like Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Researchers posit that there’s a long-term “role model effect” when Black students have teachers who look like them.

So, is the answer more Black teachers? Not really. In order to get a Black teacher in front of every child, we would have to double the number of teachers and that means... additional 256,000 Black college graduates would need to pursue teaching, instead of another career. Given how little teachers make, that would cut billions from the collective Black income. This setback may be worth it in the long term if it meant that millions of Black students were set up for success earlier in life - giving them the chance to contribute more in the future.

However, we also need to think of alternative solutions... helping professionals serve as role models and advocating for not only well-paid teachers but for teaching assistants and school counselors who can also be role models.

This study confirms what we pretty much know - our children benefit from role models in the classroom - and we should fight for what we know best.

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