Imagine – just for a moment – going through your entire K-12 experience without seeing a teacher that shares one of your most significant identities. This might be baffling to some, but it’s an everyday reality for many Black and Latinx learners making their way through public school systems. According to the National Center for Education Statistics 2017-18 report, 79% of teachers are white, even as the majority of students attending public schools are children of color. However, research shows schools are missing out on many potential benefits when teachers don’t reflect the ethnic or racial diversity of their students.
“There is a clear body of evidence with Black teachers and Latinx teachers that there is this added value for their capacity to improve learning, to improve social emotional learning, course taking, reducing suspension, taking more rigorous courses,” says Dr. Travis J. Bristol, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.
He notes that Black and Latinx teachers’ lived experience uniquely position them to relate to students of color. And it’s not only students of color that benefit from having Black and Latinx educators – research suggests that white students also benefit from teachers of color and those who offer different perspectives.