Retention, Not Recruitment, Is the Major Problem in Efforts to Have More Minority Teachers

Research by scholars at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania has found that since the late 1980s there has been a huge surge in the number of teachers from underrepresented minority groups in the nation’s public schools. The data shows that over the past quarter-century the number of minority teachers has increased from 325,000 to 642,000. The data also shows that many of these minority teachers are in schools in districts with large numbers of minority students.

However, the research also showed that minority teachers, particularly at schools in high-poverty urban areas, are more likely to leave teaching than white teachers and those that teach in more affluent districts. Poor working conditions, including a lack of instructional autonomy, were found to contribute to the high turnover rate. The authors of the study conclude that “poor, high-minority urban schools that improve these working conditions will be far more likely to retain their minority teachers and to address these shortages.”

Related Articles


  1. As a K-12 educator who has worked in both sectors (urban and suburban) I can offer some insight. The urban districts pay very well, but the headaches are not worth it. The suburban districts pay less, but the headaches tend to diminish. Thus, many educators that I know personally have fled the urban centers for the peace of mind that the suburbs offer.

  2. When are politicians and school administrators going to finally get the point about the need for better working conditions and professional respect (autonomy)? They don’t seem to “get it” in my neck of the woods!

  3. The issues of recruiting and retaining minority teachers, especially African Americans, are very complicated. I attended a conference many years ago where presenters created a statistical predictive model which indicated that even if every African American eligible student went into teaching, there still would not be enough to address every urban school in the country. Current data bears this out in that many students are opting for other professions because they themselves read the newspapers and perhaps see first hand from siblings, etc. what teachers are dealing with on a day to day basis. Until the problems of motivation for learning are resolved, adequate in school support by school administrators, as well as the elevation of the profession, this problem will persist.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Higher Education Gifts or Grants of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

African Literature and Culture Society Honors Duriel Harris for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry

Dr. Harris has served as a professor of poetry and poetics at Illinois State University for the past 15 years. Her teaching and academic interests include poetry writing, poetics, and African American literature.

Featured Jobs