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.”

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3 COMMENTS

  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.

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