The Burden of Being a Black Teacher

Emily Deruy |The Atlantic

Many African American educators say they don’t feel respected or empowered at their schools.


As classrooms across the United States become more diverse, schools are working to hire more teachers of color, particularly black teachers. Some have actually done a reasonable job of bringing more African American educators in the door. Yet the vast majority of teachers remain white women, in part because many black teachers leave just a few years into the job. Federal data suggests that in 2012-13, nearly 22 percent of black public-school teachers moved schools or left the profession altogether, compared to only about 15 percent of white, non-Hispanic teachers.

The result is that only around 7 percent of the country’s teachers are black, despite the fact that African Americans make up around 16 percent of the overall student population. I’ve written about why that matters, but the upshot is that children benefit when they see and hear people who come from different backgrounds. Students learn to collaborate and compromise, and they prepare for the inevitably global nature of their future jobs. When schools have a diverse teaching force, they may also be able to limit the effects of implicit bias. A recent study found that white teachers have lower expectations than black teachers for the same black students. Having more teachers of color might help mitigate that imbalance.


National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) | NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, U.S.


The National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) is a non-profit organization that is devoted to furthering the academic success for the nation’s children, especially those children of African descent. The NABSE was founded in 1970 and is the nation’s largest network of African American educators program. The current conference and membership director is Ed Potillo. The organization reaches out to over 5,000 educators including teachers, administrators, superintendents and also other corporate and institutional members. The NABSE is dedicated to improving both the educational experiences and accomplishments of African American youth through the development and use of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement. The NABSE promotes programs that deal with professional development, information-sharing on strategies that will help to motivate African American youth and increase their academic performances, and policy advocacy.


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