Have you ever looked around your school community and asked “where are all of the Black teachers?” The National Center for Education Statistics indicates that more than 50% of public school children are students of color, but less than 20% of their teachers are also people of color. This might not seem immediately problematic but data suggests otherwise. Research shows that Black students are 13% more likely to complete high school and begin college if they have had one Black teacher in elementary school and 32% more likely if they have had more than one. Further, this research notes that the impact of access to Black teachers is even more profound for Black boys, in particular. Fueled by a desire to transform this status quo, there is a vibrant movement afoot to revolutionize schools and the lives of Black students by increasing the number of Black teachers.
The #WeNeedBlackTeachers Day of Action on September 9th is a youth-led, youth-planned campaign to raise awareness about the lack of Black educators and the need to retain Black educators more effectively. In this endeavor, the campaign is partnering with the Center for Black Educator Development (CBED) which is conducting a parallel Black Teacher Pipeline Project (BTP). BTP is the first comprehensive Black educator development project intended to cultivate a pool of future Black educators by engaging Black high school and college students as teacher pre-apprentices; supporting them through fellowship, apprenticeships, and scholarship; and aiding their professional development through mentorship and professional learning opportunities during their first four years of teaching.
CBED explains: “The national campaign will codify and expand clinical and virtual ‘to and through’ strategies, as well as create affinity spaces for students across the country to interact with one another as they embark on their journey into the teaching profession and through certification.”
You can learn more about the barriers to retention of Black educators, and solutions that can be implemented to ameliorate the problem, through CBED’s resource Respecting Educator Activists of Color: The Anti-Racist Guide to Teacher Retention.
Let us lift up the work of the young upstanders behind the #WeNeedBlackTeachers Day of Action by spreading the word, discussing these challenges within our school communities, and inviting community members of all ages to be part of the solution.
Facing History and Ourselves invites educators to use From Reflection to Action: A Choosing to Participate Toolkit to help students explore how they, too, can drive change within the educational system and beyond.