Today, education policy think-tank The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, released Student-Teacher Race Match in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, which finds that Black students in public charter schools are about 50 percent more likely to have a Black teacher than their traditional public-school counterparts. Additionally, the report finds that charter schools employ about 35 percent more black teachers, proportionally, than traditional public schools.
The report, which uses North Carolina data to explore whether student-teacher race match is more common in traditional public or charter schools, also finds that the impact of having a same-race teacher is at least twice as large in charter schools as in traditional public schools, although those differences are statistically insignificant, likely due to small sample sizes. And within charter schools, the effect of having a same-race teacher is about twice as large for non-white students as for White students.
“Research has shown that having classroom teachers who reflect the diversity of their students is extremely beneficial to students,” said Ron Rice, senior director of government relations at the National Alliance. “One recent study found that having just one Black teacher during elementary school decreased a Black student’s probability of dropping out of high school by 29 percent. Low-income Black males were 39 percent less likely to drop out of school and 29 percent more interested in pursuing college. Charter schools were designed to be innovative and responsive to their students’ needs, and we are encouraged to see this manifested in the diversity of charter school teachers.”
Although this report offers promising data, there is more work to be done across the public-school sector to ensure all students have access to an education that fits them best. Last month, the National Alliance joined 75 other education associations in a letter calling on Congress and the Department of Education to help address the lack of teacher diversity in our nation’s classrooms.