Black Teachers Not Important for Black Kids?

New research revisits old questions about the source of the achievement gap and its solutions.

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Do black students need black teachers to be successful? Does it help, as conventional wisdom suggests? Not necessarily, according to new research by Walter Hunt, a recent graduate of the University of Houston's Executive Education Doctorate in Professional Leadership program. But taken in the context of other research on race and education, the results are a little more nuanced, as the Huffington Post reports.

The conclusion: Black (and Latino) teachers' ability to relate to students hinges on all other factors being equal. And that "all other factors being equal" bit simply draws attention back to the origins of the achievement gap itself:

Hunt's research -- which examined eighth-graders and teacher diversity in 198 Title I Texas schools -- revealed that the achievement gap between African-American and Caucasian students was greater on campuses with a larger percentage of African-American teachers.

"At first glance, it would appear that teacher race doesn't matter when addressing student achievement of minority students, but there are many layers involved when analyzing achievement of a middle-school student, such as racial identity, self-identity, age, involvement in school activities," Hunt said in a University of Houston release. "In this particular study, I was surprised to see that the campuses with more African-American teachers did not have the highest African-American student achievement. This just goes to show that having a positive impact on students is a complex, multi-layered process," he added.

And while previous research has looked at the paucity of black teachers, others have found value in employing black and latino teachers to teach students of the same race ...

A 2011 report from Stanford University, for example, looked at the role that income plays, and found that the achievement gap between children from high and low income families far exceeded the achievement gap between black students and their white peers. They even went on to say that their findings were not confounded by race.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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