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Texas Teacher-Student Racial Gap Eyed

A lack of black and Hispanic teachers in Texas could hinder the achievement of minority students as their state-wide enrollment skyrockets, reports the Dallas Morning News.

The state projects that Hispanic students alone will make up more than half of Texas' student body by the 2011-2012 school year, yet two out of three Texas school teachers are white. Research is piling up pointing out the problems with this discrepancy: A 2004 study by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government showed that students did better on state tests when taught by educators of their own ethnicity or race.

"It is important for role modeling and pushing those students to go to college," Ed Fuller, an education consultant at the University of Texas at Austin, told the News. "Of course, you want to make sure teachers are well-qualified and not just thrown into a classroom because of race or ethnicity, but if you have a predominantly Hispanic or black student body... it is wise to hire teachers who are the same in race or ethnicity."

So why the shortage of minority teachers? Fuller contends the state simply has not paid enough attention to the problem. Others add that teacher salaries are often not competitive with what minority college graduates can receive in the private sector.

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