In Michigan’s charter school sector, who heavily serves an ethnically diverse student population living in disenfranchised communities and exposed to trauma and stress, hiring a teaching staff that is reflective of their student body is key for students who are facing a learning gap even before they step into the school building.
Charter schools in Michigan have struggled with filling open teaching positions. In fact, during MAPSA’s most recent online job fair, there were over 200 open positions that schools were trying to fill.
As school leaders you work hard to find the best educators to fill your open positions. Are they highly qualified? Do they fit in your school culture? Do they have any experience or would this be their first job? How are they going to relate to your students? One of the more important, but potentially controversial factors that can influence student success is the race and ethnicity of a teacher. How is this factored into your hiring?
According to researchers, there are many positive benefits for students who share the same race or ethnicity of their teacher. Here are some of the most significant:
- Students, especially African American elementary kids, perform better on assessments when they are assigned African American teachers.
- Minority teachers are less likely to hold racial biases for students of similar backgrounds.
- Minority teachers provide students of color positive roll models in authority positions, potentially increasing the value seen in education and academic success.
- Teachers of color have higher expectations for students of color than white teachers, and teacher expectations are a key indicator of student outcomes.
Finding and hiring any qualified teachers is difficult these days. With research and evidence prevalently showing increased academic achievement, students of color have a leg up on their learning when their teacher counterpart looks similar to them. During the process, it is important to keep in mind the positive impacts that minority teachers can have on students of color.