It is already not the news that black kids understand the school material better when their teacher is black. And it turns out that all kids, no matter what is the race, understand the school material better when their teacher is a minority representative.
Why? Minority people know too well, how it feels when you don’t understand something, when you are out of the group and being bullied. Being a minority representative mends developed compassion and empathy. And these characteristics help minority teachers to be the best teachers.
According to the study based on the data from a 2009-2010 survey sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the middle school students ranked black and Latino teachers above white teachers in order of preference in a number of areas including the ability to challenge and care for them.
That’s why we need more black teachers.
Author of the survey, Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, who is an assistant professor of international education at NYU, said he was surprised himself. “In the middle school I taught in and high schools I did summer stints in ... students knew the racial hierarchy which existed within the school, which is largely the racial hierarchy that exists in the United States. Which implies they would have more respect, more something, for white teachers than nonwhite teachers,” he said.
“If you’re a black teacher, you understand you’re not in the mainstream and you know how to navigate the world essentially embodying an identity that is sometimes highly stigmatized,” said Cherng. In middle school, “kids are struggling with their own identities and how to come to terms with their own difference and development. I think these middle school teachers can use their own identities and experience to bridge that relationship with all types of students.”
While the U.S. Department of Education has long acknowledged the need for more minority teachers, this study just provides more evidence that the recruitment and retention of teachers of color should be of highest priority!