Due to COVID-19, there has been an unprecedented shortage of teachers, including in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. districts. Between 1988 and 2018, the number of teachers of color hired by the country’s schools increased faster than the number of white teachers when it comes to diversity. However, on average, diverse educators also left their positions much more quickly. Now due to factors concerning racial stress and upper management, Black teachers are leaving the profession more than ever before, as an extensive report from Hechinger lays out.
It’s been shown that students of color work better in the classroom if the facility is more diverse. Also, racism in the classroom has led to increased Black parents to home-school children. Yet the findings of the Rand Report show a troubling trend:
Black teachers were more than twice as likely as other teachers in the winter of 2021 to say they planned to leave their jobs at the end of the 2020-21 school year, according to a report released by the RAND Corporation. And a slightly higher percentage of nonwhite teachers than white ones—45 percent vs. 42 percent—said that they were considering leaving their position last school year, researchers at the University of Arkansas’ College of Education & Health Professions found. (The gap was 30 percent vs. 22 percent, when teachers were asked if they were considering leaving because of reasons related to Covid-19.)
The Center for Black Educator Development, led by CEO Sharif El-Mekki, co-released with the teacher leadership and advocacy organization Teach Plus a report outlining steps school leaders should take to retain more Black educators.
“They have not spent a second thinking about what kind of environment they are recruiting people to,” says El-Mekki, who invokes Martin Luther King Jr.’s worry, expressed shortly before his death, that he had integrated Black Americans “into a burning house.” “That could stand for teachers of color entering racially hostile school environments today,” El-Mekki says.
But, there are some examples of states working to keep their minority personnel. Mississippi, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have been doing things such as extending emergency licenses or adjusting test score thresholds that adversely affect Black candidates the most. In particular, licensure exam requirements for new teachers in Mississippi was a great help:
Preliminary data show that the waivers, which were due to end in 2022, have significantly boosted the diversity of teacher candidates in Mississippi. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of people of color entering educator preparation programs jumped by more than 500 percent. (The growth in the number of white candidates was about 44 percent.)