The Percentage of Black Teachers in the Nation’s Schools Shows a Significant Decline

A new study by the U.S. Department of Education offers a look at the changing demographics of the teacher workforce in the nation’s K-12 school systems over the quarter-century period from 1987 to 2012.

The data shows that in 1987 there were 197,900 Black teachers employed by the nation’s elementary and secondary schools. By 2012, this number had grown to 247,900. But shockingly, the percentage of all teachers who were Black dropped from 7.5 percent to 6.4 percent. This came at a time when the number and the percentage of Blacks in K-12 school systems increased dramatically.

In 1987, Blacks made up 5.6 percent of all new teachers in elementary and secondary schools. In 2012, this percentage had increased to 6.7 percent. But since, the Black percentage of the total teacher workforce has declined, it appears that the major problem may be the retention of Black teachers.

The full study, A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force: From 1987 to 2012, may be downloaded here.

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  1. The wording of this report is somewhat confusing. Nonetheless, if the report is valid, what good is it to increase the number of African American teachers in the United States if we cannot retain them? A number of state districts like those in large cities along with HBCUs are creating programs to recuit minority teachers, however, failure to retain eager, new recruits will negate their efforts.

  2. I’m a substitute teacher in Atlanta and it appears that blacks and black women in particular make up the core of the teachers in the Atlanta Public School System. I’m surprised that the percentage of black teachers has declined.

    • I think the study carries rates across the country. Atlanta has one of the highest percentage of blacks, so the number of black teachers are likely abundant.

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