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Why Our Classrooms Benefit From Minority Teachers

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The number of minority students enrolled in U.S. schools is growing at a rapid rate, yet student enrollment is not matched by minority teacher representation. The National Center for Education Statistics tells us that nearly 82 percent of public school teachers are white -- and Black and Hispanic students are two to three times more common than teachers of the same ethnicity. The gap is typically the widest in areas of the country with high percentages of students of color.

Nationwide, parents and policymakers are highlighting the importance of racial representation in the classroom. Many feel that minority teachers are in a position to put a stop to negative stereotypes and act as role models and mentors for students of color. Teachers who can relate to their students' backgrounds usually are better able to look past biases of their abilities.

A study in Economics of Education Reviews tell us that minority students perform better with minority teachers.

In addition to the challenge of having too few minority teachers, we also see the highest percentage of Black teachers leaving the profession. This is likely because minority teachers tend to work in schools with high rates of poverty.

The education gap is a serious obstacle our country faces - and I think that the "diversity gap" is a major part of our struggle. The education gap is staggering and it is hindering our country socially and economically. We have to find ways to get more teachers of color in the classroom. Students perform better when they can relate to their teachers, and teachers who can relate to their students are less likely to have a preconceived idea of how each student will perform.  We need more teachers of color in our schools acting as strong role models for our minority students.

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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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