Constance Lindsay has a nice run-down of the research on the importance of teacher-student race match. To put it bluntly, black students do better on a host of educational outcomes when they have black educators in their lives. What can we do about this problem?
The simple and most obvious answer is to diversify our teacher workforce. There are a lot of reasons to pursue a more diverse teaching corps, but, given our current trajectory, that could take a very long time.
Another possible lever would be to train or re-train our existing teachers. My Bellwether colleagues Max Marchitello and Justin Trinidad wrote a report on the merits of that approach.
However, training efforts aren’t exactly straightforward. We can’t even train teachers how to teach reading or math effectively, so we may want to be cautious that we’ll be able to train teachers on anti-racism at scale.
And then there’s the sheer size of the teacher workforce. Is it reasonable to expect all 4 million public school teachers to change their attitudes and dispositions? That’s especially true if the race-match effects are being driven by more subtle differences about expectations rather than overt racism.
It would be easy to see these obstacles and throw up our hands, but the race-match finding is too important to simply ignore. Yet instead of addressing the race-match issue through individual teachers, we should be thinking more systemically. Reforms like double-blind disciplinary reviews, universal testing and screening policies, and other policy reforms could take the human element out of the equation and more immediately address the consequences of the teacher-student race-match problem.
–Guest post by Chad Aldeman