Report Finds That a Lack of Trust Impacts Retention Rates of Black Teachers

A new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, examined the racial disparity in the teacher workforce in Wisconsin and discovers possible reasons why these disparities persist.

The report shows that 9 percent of all Wisconsin school students are African American, but only 2 percent of Wisconsin teachers and 5 percent of principals are African American. Other than in the Milwaukee School District, only 0.6 percent of teachers in Wisconsin are African American. Statewide, 86 percent of all Wisconsin schools do not have any African American teachers.

Recruiting Black teachers to teach in the state is difficult but retention is also a major hurdle. From the 2016-17 school year to the 2018-19 school year, nearly half of all African American teachers had changed schools and 17.5 percent had left public education, altogether. This was nearly double the rate for Whites. If only new teachers are considered, African American teachers with two years or less experience were 2.5 times as likely to leave Wisconsin public education as White teachers (27.9 percent compared to 11 percent).

The results of surveys completed by teachers at the end of the 2016-17 school year suggest that relational trust, between teachers and between teachers and principals, was extremely important for whether a teacher decided to stay or leave a school. The surveys found that Black teachers had significantly lower levels of trust with other teachers and principals.

The full report, Race, Relational Trust, and Teacher Retention in Wisconsin Schools, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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