Newsflash: When teachers have similar backgrounds to the kids they teach, they treat their students with more empathy and respect. Suspensions go down. So do expulsions. 

You know this, we know this. It’s not new. But because America is America, we must continually prove it. That’s exactly what researchers Matthew Shirrell, Travis J. Bristol and Tolani A. Britton did in a new paper published at Annenberg Brown University.

Yup, Black kids with Black teachers are suspended at lower rates than they are with white teachers. The same is true for kids and teachers with shared backgrounds in Latinx heritage and Asian-American heritage. 

The paper has much more:

Although Black and Latinx students disproportionately face exclusionary school discipline, prior research finds that the likelihood of suspension for Black students decreases when they are taught by greater proportions of Black teachers. Little prior work, however, has examined whether these effects generalize to large, diverse, urban school districts or to Asian American or Latinx students and teachers. Using student fixed effects models and 10 years of data from New York City, we find that assignment to greater proportions of ethnoracially matched teachers decreases the likelihood of suspension for Black, Latinx, and Asian American students. The magnitudes of these effects are small but suggest that diversifying the teacher workforce could lead to significant decreases in exclusionary discipline in urban districts.

Just one Black teacher makes a difference, for all kids. 

It’s even better when we incorporate more Black male teachers

Black teachers need to know we see them, and they need to know that we are demanding more colleagues of color for them to help kids reach their learning potential. 

Be sure to click below to share this piece on social media and tell your local leaders to get serious about teacher diversity. 


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