The study goes beyond previous research that showed short-term benefits to pairing students with teachers of the same race, demonstrating longer-term affects. The implications are important, Papageorge said, because policymakers can act quickly to improve black students’ chances of academic success.
“This isn’t a situation where students need two, three or four black teachers to make a difference,” he was quoted as saying in a Johns Hopkins release. “This could be implementable tomorrow. You could literally go into a school right now and switch around the rosters so that every black child gets to face a black teacher.”
Actually, it may not be that easy. A report released by the Education Department in 2016 said that the latest data found that about 82 percent of teachers in America’s public schools are white; 8 percent are Hispanic; 7 percent are black, with only 2 percent black males; 2 percent are Asian; and about half of a percent are American Indian or Alaska Native. Sixty-three percent of teachers working in high-poverty elementary and secondary schools were white; 16 percent were black and 16 percent were Hispanic, the data said. And teachers of color are overwhelmingly employed in public schools serving student populations with relatively high proportions of students of color and public schools in urban areas.
For the study, the researchers first looked at longitudinal data on about 100,000 black students who entered third grade in North Carolina public schools between 2001 and 2005. Then they studied black students in Tennessee who entered kindergarten in the late 1980s and participated in a class-size reduction experiment; they found that students who had at least one black teacher in kindergarten through grade three were 15 percent less likely to drop out and 10 percent more likely to take a college-entrance exam.
How can we help black boys succeed in school? One popular answer is that we need more black male teachers.The logic appears simple: Black boys are not faring well, and the presence of black men as teachers and role models will fix this problem … The argument may be well intentioned, but it is a cop-out. Schools are failing black male students, and it’s not because of the race of their teachers. These students are often struggling with the adverse effects of poverty, the inequitable distribution of resources across communities and the criminalization of black men inside and outside of schools. Black male teachers can serve as powerful role models, but they cannot fix the problems minority students face simply by being black and male.