According to research conducted at the University of Georgia, Black teenage girls in Georgia are significantly more likely to become pregnant than White teenage girls. But the research shows that for Black teenage girls who have African American teachers, the pregnancy rate goes down. White teenage pregnancy rates were the same when they had Black teachers or White teachers.
Vicky Wilkins, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia and one of the authors of the study, states, “African American teachers drive down African American teenage pregnancy rates.” Her data shows that when African Americans make up at least 17.6 percent of the teachers in a particular school, Black teenage pregnancy rates begin to go down and larger percentage of Black teachers produces even greater reductions in the Black teenage pregnancy rate.
“Our discussions convinced us that, although any teacher can serve as a role model, African-American students seek out role models who look like them, particularly with regard to non-educational issues,” Dr. Wilkins said. “All of the African-American female teachers we spoke with shared example after example of both male and female African-American students asking questions about relationship choices and decisions.”
The article, “Going Beyond Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic: The Effects of Teacher Representation on Teen Pregnancy Rates,” was published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. It can be downloaded here.