The Benefits of Minority Teachers in the Classroom

Anna Egalite & Brian Kisida, Real Clear Education, March 6, 2015

{snip} Racial representation in the classroom is of particular interest to education practitioners, policymakers, and parents. Many believe that minority teachers are best situated to counter negative stereotypes and to serve as role-models, mentors, or cultural-translators for students of color. Moreover, teachers who can relate to their students’ cultural background should be less likely to hold biased subjective views of their academic abilities.

In 2014, ethnic minorities constituted a majority of America’s public school students for the first time, with projections showing that the proportion of minority students will continue to grow for years to come. Yet minority student enrollment is not matched by similar demographic representation among teachers–nearly 82% of public school teachers are white. On average, Black and Hispanic students are two to three times more common than Black and Hispanic teachers. {snip}


We recently examined the effect of minority teachers on student achievement, and we find that minority students tend to do better with minority teachers. In a recently published study in Economics of Education Review, we follow the trajectories of 2.9 million public school students in Florida over a seven-year time period and examine whether their test scores change in response to their teacher assignment. For all students, we compared their standardized test scores in years when they had a teacher of the same ethnicity to school years when they did not. Because of the detailed data we had access to, we were able to account for lots of other factors that might explain differences in student achievement–things like poverty status, English language proficiency, gender, average teacher quality, and prior year test scores. Our findings include:

— Black, white, and Asian students benefit from being assigned to a teacher that looks like them. Their test scores go up in years when their teacher shares their ethnicity, compared to years when their teacher has a different ethnicity.

— Effects are generally largest for elementary-aged students and students who are lower-performing.

— Elementary-aged Black students seem to particularly benefit from demographically-similar teachers.

Given these findings, it is certainly possible that the “diversity gap” is a contributing factor to the achievement gap, and efforts to recruit minority teachers may be part of the solution.


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • LHathaway

    Latest results in: Blacks, Whites and Asians benefit from being assigned a teacher that looks like them. What a surprise, knock me over with a feather. . . it also revealed, over 50% of students in public schools are children of color yet nearly 82% of teachers are White.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Black student: “Yo teacher, What am be two plus five?”

      Black teacher “I wuz gonna ask y’all…”

      • Nancy

        At my last school, (a private school that was really just a special ed. school for parents who don’t want to admit their children are “special ed”), the head of the department was a black former military woman who taught history (of course). I would often read over things she wrote (notes home to parents, emails, or even comments on their report cards), and noticed she wrote just like she spoke: in typical Ebonics, her subjects and verbs didn’t agree.

        Her writing looked like, “Brandon still need to turn in his homework on time. He have several zeroes in the grade book allready, which will affeck his final grade. Right now, it look like he not going to pass this class. I believe Brandon know he can do better, because he past my class last semester.”

        I brought it up to the principal, who was also the owner of the school, but she did nothing about it…she was always afraid of offending the black teachers and parents. Blacks were her best customers.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    This is the funny thing: the left says that black students benefit from having black teachers, therefore we should have more black teachers. In other words, we’re suffering from an excess of whitey, as usual. But they don’t want to admit, and they’re hoping the public doesn’t realize, that the corollary is also true: that white students likely benefit from having white teachers as well.

    • LHathaway

      That may be true, but that is not what they have told us for the last Century. What they’ve told us is that blacks benefit from having black role models, and black civil servants, but that it’s vitally important too for Whites to having Black role models. It helps them have a better appreciation of diversity.

    • Rurik

      White kids will benefit from having minority teachers by learning the essentials of race realism early, and also when and how to keep their mouths shut.

    • Stephen Wordsworth

      They also wont want to admit that this means bringing in the National Guard to desegregate schools was a bad idea.

  • MekongDelta69

    “Students of all races benefit from teachers of same race.”

    Yep – that would be called… segregation

    • TruthBeTold

      And yet blacks demand integrated schools.

  • David Ashton

    Ethnic minorities = ethnic majority.
    So when will the largest residual ethnic minority (guess who, folks?) have teachers exclusively of its own phenotype?

    • LHathaway

      Well, they do now, being ‘82% of teachers are White’. Whether or not these are pro-white teachers or not, or White teachers marinaded in guilt, is another question. They have certainly never called for there to be more White teachers in any kind of way, or, even if there are none. 0 Whites equals 100% diversity (although there is more in spirit that can be done do facilitate diversity – whites still exist somewhere on this earth). Nope, they call for more teachers of color to teach Whites, and they call for more teachers of color to teach those of color. Always. Just as suburban towns had a diversity program and big cities also have a diversity program. In their case, you have to live within the city in order to do work or do business with the city.

  • Dave West

    “Effects are generally largest for elementary-aged students and students who are lower-performing.”

    Let me guess, these “effects” magically disappear for blacks once they reach high school?

    The problem with blacks concerning educational achievement is ……………….. they grow up!

  • Reynardine

    I think if you probe enough (and you don’t have to probe much), you’d find we all do better with members of our own race across the entire spectrum of human interaction.

  • dd121

    I’d love it if they’d put black students with black teachers. That would make it a bit harder to blame whites for black failure. Naw, never happen.

    • Susannah

      I attended an elementary school in the ’80s that (unofficially) practiced something like that. Most of the black students were placed with black teachers, and the remainder (usually the more intelligent and better behaved) were placed with White teachers. It was a workable system overall. Of course, no one could get away with all of that now.

      • David Ashton

        In Britain the West Indian two-parents and teachers mostly prefer the traditional curriculum and strict classroom rules, but the white liberals and the few race-obsessed left-wing black education-careerists do not offer this. Some schools have had to be closed down soon after the non-white pupils have reached a majority. The lazier black pupils will often use “racism” by white teachers as an excuse for misbehavior in the mixed classrooms, a common reaction is “teeth-sucking” or down-tools. But black classes run by competent and strict black teachers do not get this problem so much, and “students” cannot plausibly use racism as a pretext. However, everything continues to dissolve – with few black teachers, more multilingual immigrants, liberal obsessions like “sex” education in primary schools (e.g. homosexual role-play), ever-larger classes, abolition of ability selection and subject-setting, pressures on faith schools to drop their standards of teaching and intake, the conversion of Muslim schools into jihad-friendly madrassas….

    • They would still blame whites by saying they aren’t receiving enough of our money.

      • dd121

        Not a problem. They actually get about twice as much as whites. That excuse wouldn’t fly.

  • JackKrak

    “The Benefits of Minority Teachers in the Classroom”???

    You should try my plan for improving test scores and seeing an overall increase in academic quality. It’s called “The Benefits of White Kids in the Classroom”.

  • At my heavily Mexican university in Texas, the students wanted white professors. The Mexicans were boring and lazy, not giving a cr*p about the students, the Chinese could not be understood, and the Hindu profs were unable to relate. We had no “professors of color.”

    Thus, i conclude that only the competent white teacher is really the only one able to get the job done. I also know for a fact that the Mexican profs gave out grades like candy at Halloween to Mexican students, and yet still the Mexican students didn’t prefer them.

    • MBlanc46

      Always glad to see you here, bigone. If education is the goal, I’m sure you’re right that minorities want white teachers. However, for most minority youth, I suspect that an in-group teacher is more effective is shoving them through the system with as little trouble as possible.

    • Earthling

      If you are going to complain about incompetence in non-white instructors, then I would suggest you improve your writing ability in the area of punctuation, using capital letters correctly and explaining what you mean in a clear and coherent manner. (What does “unable to relate” mean anyway?)

      Frankly, it sounds like you had quite a few professors who gave inflated grades to white students.

  • Jaggers

    So all those highly coveted jobs teaching blacks in the ghetto will now be earmarked for black teachers? I’m sure white teachers would be devastated.

  • MBlanc46

    Whoever would have thought this was the case? Well, other than social constructionist ideologues. Over a wide variety of situations people prefer to interact with those like them in significant ways, such as race, class, and sex.

    • Blackfish

      And the dopes who watched “To Sir with Love” and thought it was based in reality!

  • libertarian1234

    “……and we find that minority students tend to do better with minority teachers. ”
    They also do better living and working among their own kind, which is why multiculturalism is a failed ideology as has been proven numerous times throughout global history, and is presently being proven now as the West is proceeding through contentious inter-tribal violence with rapes, fighting, terrorism, black riots and demands by Muslims that they want Sharia law.
    As regards “minorities,” notice how they lump blacks in with a larger group most of whom do far better than blacks for the most part. They use that trick in order to hide the fact that blacks do so much worse than everybody else they would stand alone as the greatest failures for everybody to see if they did not.
    The educators have tried so many tricks to get blacks to catch up and failed it’s obvious to anybody with good sense that they can try schemes from now until the next century and they’ll still perform the same miserable way.
    But there’s no way I believe this country won’t erupt into violence with many secessions LONG before the next century.

  • superlloyd

    A magical panacea to uplift students of color (read negroes’) performance by assigning them more minority (read black) teachers. Hasn’t this been tried before with zero change in their dismal performances? Anna Egalite (is that really her birth or marital name?) and her co author would seem to be wearing rose tinted glasses that enables them to see pigs flying like the ancient Black Egyptians.

    Obviously, libtards don’t live on planet earth but in Lala land.

    • LHathaway

      Perhaps the Detroit model would interest the researchers?

    • Blackfish

      Improved test results could also be attributed to The Atlanta Method, aka widespread cheating on standardized tests!

  • superlloyd

    The benefits of minority teachers in classrooms are less than zero for majority minority whites.

  • IstvanIN

    So my brother and sister have to send their kids to Catholic School to teachers who look like and my grandson will go to private school next year. yet we all still pay for the “people of color”. Make me sick.

    • Reynardine

      You cannot liberate yourself, slave, you’re chained to this boat. Now get back to rowing!

  • John Smith

    There’s no benefit to having a black teacher, which is why, other than an African TA for French in college, I never had any. I still can’t speak French.

  • John Smith

    I was just reading a Fred Reed article where he quoted that 76% of BLACK degree’d applicants for teaching positions in a county in, IIRC, Virginia couldn’t do 8th grade math or 10th grade reading well enough to pass the competency test 20-something years ago. The sad part was neither did 25% of white applicants.

    • WR_the_realist

      It is well known that the people who get the education degrees are the people who take the least intellectually demanding courses.

      • John Smith

        Yes, I’ve seen the stats by college major some time ago and that is correct. The sad thing is that I’d need to go back to school for several years to get certified to teach, at some expense to my self, despite having a subject-related graduate degree and a Praxis II subject test score that puts me in the top ten percent. The bureaucracy was too too much when I considered entering the profession as much an act of altruism as anything and yet it’s made as hard a possible for subject-qualified persons with actually real-world experience to make the transition without making a lot of financial sacrifices.

        • WR_the_realist

          You won’t be surprised that the people who push for making an education degree a requirement for getting a job as a teacher are the professors and administrators in the teachers’ colleges. They’re the ones getting paid by your financial sacrifices.

          • John Smith

            I know – massive amounts of irrelevant BS in the curriculum for an education degree. What’s worse, is that teaching is a skill, and many of the people who are in it have none.

  • Ultimate187

    Let’s say it’s true that black students benefit from having black teachers. If you try putting them into all black schools with all black teachers, then they’ll start getting paranoid about being educationally short-changed and request to be put back with white students. It’s really a no win situation for everyone.

    • John Smith

      White kids will be shortchanged again so that negroes can prove that they are barely educable yet again.

  • James Hamilton

    Bring back segregation. Problem solved.

  • humura

    Did the cheating on the test scores rise with the minority teachers?

    • Chasmania

      …And what sort of ‘curve’ did they apply ?

      Questions like these spring to mind after reading this.

  • I am having trouble believing that “poor-performing” (i.e. stupid) black students with serious behavioral problems and the attention spans of gnats benefit from having teachers just like them.

  • Isn’t that racist? Should we not be color blind? Except, of course, white students need to be exposed to diverse teaching environment. Ideally also to a diverse student body. Diversity is our strength.

    Also, highly qualified black teachers don’t get hired, due to white privilege. /sarcasm end

  • The DIVERSITY GAP is to blame for the ACHIEVEMENT GAP??? Oh yes, this fully explains the achievement gap for Chinese foreign graduate students taught by white professors. And the extraordinary results of Detroit school children, fully exposed to teachers of their own race, where the achievement gap must have been eliminated. There also is no achievement gap in Haiti and in schools in subsaharan Africa. /sarcasm end

  • Anyone read the study that paper links to? 2 million Florida students. It costs 20 dollars to download. A study like that ideally should be scientifically debunked.

    It could be a tiny freak effect. It could be due to manipulation and math errors. I imagine it might be due to black teachers dumbing down classes to the level of Black students, while, at the same time, treating white students unjustly.

    If it were true, then this article proves that segregation would be best. Did they arrive at that conclusion?

  • Poupon Marx

    All students do better-or should-when the teachers are the highest qualified. Morons.

  • WR_the_realist

    Oh hell, I have to plus up every video by RamZPaul.

  • Sid Ishus

    “One obstacle is teacher tenure, which virtually guarantees that the demographic makeup of teachers will consistently lag behind changing student demographics.”

    Things would be so much better if they could just get rid of those old White teachers.

  • Who Me?

    Then take it just one step further, put them in different schools in different parts of town–where they are surrounded by PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE THEM!!!

  • Nancy

    As a former white teacher in two different all-black schools (with only one other white teacher besides myself), I can tell you another reason why the Negroes do better with Negro teachers.

    Negro students in those schools only did “well” if their behavior was somewhat under control. That was something we white teachers simply couldn’t do as well as the Negro teachers. The students, in general, were very intimidated by their Negro teachers, especially the large teachers with really big mouths. They even believed the Negro teachers could take them in the bathroom and “whoop” them, with no consequences. There was one teacher, Ms. Hudson, who was six-foot-three and easily weighed around 250 pounds. When she passed a student in the morning and the student averted his eyes and tried to not be noticed, she’d yell out, “DID I STAY AT YO’ HOUSE LAST NIGHT?!?!” (That was the student’s “prompt” to say, “Good morning, Ms. Hudson.” The student was expected to greet Ms. Hudson BEFORE she greeted him, or he’d get that treatment.)

    For the white teachers, all we’d hear all year long from the Negro students was, “My Momma SUE! My Momma SUE! You cain’t do nuffins to me, o’ my Momma SUE!” They were beyond not intimidated by white teachers…they actively tried to instigate something with us, hoping they could win the Ghetto Lottery if we so much as accidentally brushed by them in the hall.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    Oh god, that’s horrifying.