Black Teachers Don’t Make a Difference For Black Students?

June 12, 2012  |  

We often talk about the need for more black teachers, particularly males, in school systems across the country to help our kids excel, but according to a new study from the University of Houston, that desire may be baseless.

Walter Hunt,a  recent graduate from the University of Houston’s Executive Education Doctorate in Professional Leadership and a local assistant principal, says African American students don’t necessarily fare better when taught by African American teachers. When he examined the impact of African American teachers on African American eighth-graders in Texas Title I schools he found no significant relationship between their academic achievement and the percentage of African American teachers on campus.

“At first glance, it would appear that teacher race doesn’t matter when addressing student achievement of minority students, but there are many layers involved when analyzing achievement of a middle-school student, such as racial identity, self-identity, age, involvement in school activities,” he said. “In this particular study, I was surprised to see that the campuses with more African-American teachers did not have the highest African-American student achievement. This just goes to show that having a positive impact on students is a complex, multi-layered process.”

Hunt examined eighth-graders and teacher diversity in 198 Title I Texas schools because Title I is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which provides additional funding for campuses serving children from low-income families. Comparing 2010 eighth-grade math and reading scores from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests with African American and Caucasian students from campuses with both large and small percentages of African American teachers showed no significant difference in outcomes. In a lot of ways this isn’t totally shocking because plenty of black students have done well without ever having been taught by a black teacher but in some environments the influence of an African American teacher shouldn’t be downplayed.

Hunt does want to delve a little bit deeper into the study by perhaps broadening the examination to other middle school grades and high school and also looking at social studies and science TAKS scores. He should also consider how disciplinary action towards black students is carried out in schools with more black teachers, and also considered the psychological effects of black children seeing someone who looks like them in certain professions and positions of authority.

Do you still think having more black teachers in school would help black students perform better academically?

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  • Mr. P

    This is a flawed study…They are measuring 8th graders and how many black teacchers did these black kids have? A real study particularly in education will take about 10 years. Start the black kids with black elementary school teachers including PE and in middle school, the black kids have all black teachers. Then we can see if this ” Premise” holds true..

  • How many races of teachers will they burn through before they finally realize what we all know to be true by instinct, that some are ineducable?

  • TFD123

    So it looks like our 967th attempt to close the racial gap in academic achievement was unsuccessful… what should we try next?

    Come up with some new method to close the gap (preferably one that externalizes the problem to some outside cause). Try it out for 10 years. Be completely perplexed 10 years later when we see it didn’t work. Come up with a new method. Repeat. Never realize that the students are the problem.

  • Melisa

    I have to completely disagree with this. Being a teacher is not just about teaching and test scores, it’s also about counseling and being a role model. It is always good for students of any race to see people like them who are college educated or who have even gone to grad school. That right there has a huge impact on students.

    I have just finished my credential program this year in California. In all of my schooling I only had 1 Black teacher, and California is a diverse state. Maybe in the Texas and other Southern states it isn’t a big deal, but in California it would make a big difference to have more Black teachers.

  • Rah Truth

    Expecting a teacher to treat a child better or worse based on race is just wrong.

  • Candacey Doris

    It’s not simply about having a black teacher, it’s about having a black teacher that cares. In high school i ha a black math teacher that really helped me. She was really hard and didn’t cut me any slack. Part of the reason i tried so hard was because she was black, but the biggest reason was because she was so tough on me and so involved. Any teacher that cares is amazing but since it was her i tried extra hard.

  • eric

    KIR12, what state are you located? Please holla’ at me.

  • LaDee

    Race has nothing to do with how well someone can teach or touch a child. The teachers who touched my life in good ways have been all colors. I can say, however, that I had a colorstruck teacher who was black that ruined dance for me because she was so mean and insulting. Most of the class was comprised of black girls and she blatantly favored the girls who were darker skinned and was harsh toward the girls who were lighter (like her… go figure?). Mrs. Dawson @ Sullivan… I hope you have changed your ways and that no other girls went through what I and others went through.

  • Guest360

    Well I could have told you this without the study to back me up lol. I’ve never been affected by my teacher’s race other than just pure fascination of where they come from and what are the differences between their culture and mine. But to me, the best teachers have always been the ones who were attentive to their students’ needs and actually CARED about teaching them. Race isn’t a factor in any of that nor does it make a difference to most students to see a member of their race teaching them.

  • MrEazyE

    I am a black male who will begin my teaching career in a Title I school this fall. I hope to make an impact on ALL my students, regardless of race. Some of the teachers who had the most impact on me were white and probably couldn’t relate to me personally, but they were excellent in their career.

    Most children who are unsuccessful academically have a problem that starts at home. Parents need to be more active in education.


      I applaud your decision to enter the realm of teaching. Being the mother of a biracial son, I can attest from what I’ve personally witnessed as a parent that our children need more role models like you in our education system. My first teachers were Black and I think that is why I had a much more positive elementary school experience than my son has had so far.

      • MrEazyE

        Absolutely. I know that my black and biracial students will benefit from having me in the classroom. I was shocked to read statistics saying that only 2% of public school teachers in the US are black males. I hope things turn around for both students and teachers. And hopefully your son’s experiences get better!!

  • Rah Truth

    As a teacher, I cannot put more time and energy into certain students because they happen to be Black. ALL of the students are my responsibility. Imagine if the situation were reversed and White teachers were putting more energy into White students. Would that be fair?

  • The only real difference that can be made is by black parents….

  • KIR12

    It starts and ends in the home. You’ve got kids in third world countries living, sleeping on dirt floors
    going to run down dirty schools without toilets and running water
    outperforming kids in these ghetto schools. Look at Detroit. It has 84k
    students and spends 1.2 billion dollars on its school. That’s 1.2
    BILLION!!!!! This country spends this type of money on ghetto schools
    with 40% to 50% dropout rates throughout the country. Only 31.9 percent
    of Detroit’s public high school students graduate in four years. 1.2
    billion for a 31% graduation rate in 4 years is laughable and truly sad
    at the same time. I fill sorry for black women and emasculated black men. They’re
    scratching their heads, walking around in a daze trying to come up with
    this silver bullet solution (ie more money for more government programs)
    that is going to get these ghetto black kids to learn and give them this great Socialist Matriarchal Utopia
    Society that the Liberal, progressive, Socialist, J ews and Feminist (the man is
    wanted but not needed in the home) promised them if only they
    followed their lead. My brothers and sisters I have a question. After 50
    years and their failed social engineering programs (ie welfare) and ideology (rejection of the importance of the traditional nuclear family) and
    unquestioned undying loyalty to the liberals lead, how’s that working
    out for black folks? I’m not an ideologue as some would try to paint me
    in an attempt to belittle and dismiss me and my message as just another
    unhip, uncool, uneducated backwards “Uncle Tom”. I’m not against
    Liberals and liberal policies out of some stubborn ideology. I’m against
    them BECAUSE THEY DON’T WORK at least not in the hood. After 4 generations we now know that high rates of illegitimacy leads to high academic failure, which leads to high rates of drop outs, which leads to high rates of unemployment, which leads to high rates of poverty, which leads to high rates of crime all of which leads to dysfunctional homes, schools and communities.

    The root of all black social problems is 72% illegitimacy and no men in
    the homes. I think to myself how in the world can a community build
    wealth and be a productive community in an environment amongst this type
    of dysfunction? The truth is that IT CAN NOT BE DONE. Can a child raised by a single parent become productive? OF COURSE THEY
    CAN! But who cares if 2 or 3 kids out of 10 become productive if the rest of the kids fall through the cracks and perish. The community is still going to be dysfunctional. So the question must be asked. Can a community with 72% of it’s kids illegitimate and no men in the homes become productive? I haven’t
    seen any evidence of this in the history of civilization. Have you? The
    truth is it has never been done in the history of civilization, by any
    race. This is a fact.

    Don’t believe these feminist and liberal lies that the black man has always abandoned the black family. It’s really a recent phenomenon. The black community was once extremely stable in spite of abject
    poverty, Jim Crow, racism and discrimination. Illegitimacy is not our
    culture. As you all now have been taught to believe. It’s really a
    recent phenomenon. The social engineering of White elitist, J ews, feminist
    (the man is not NEEDED in the home) and progressive liberals who think
    they’re smarter than everyone else has done something that 400 years of
    slavery, Jim crow and discrimination were unable to do. Destroy the
    black family and black community. All the way up until the late 1950’s black women had a higher marriage rate than white women and almost every black kid had a father in the home. In the last 50 years black women have went from the women with the highest
    rate of marriage to the lowest. Today 31 percent of
    African American women by their early forties have never married as
    compared to only 9 percent of White, 11 percent of Asian , and 12
    percent of Latino women in the same age group. Black illegitimacy went
    from 24% to 72% (85%+ in the very worst ghettos), 50% abortions of all
    black pregnancies, overcrowding of abandoned/abused black kids in CPS,
    blacks kids have 50% H.S. dropout rates and 15 to 20% unemployment (46%
    for teens), only 7% of businesses are black, crime is out of control and
    black families are now 3rd and 4th generational welfare recipients with
    generation poverty. Everything liberal ain’t good for blacks and everything conservative ain’t bad for blacks. Very few in the black community want to admit the truth. My point? Black people…… Liberalism, Progressivism, Socialism, Marxism and Feminism
    HAS FAILED YOU. Love your people enough to speak the truth.

    • Don Quixote

      In the present American job market, a substantial fraction of blacks are unemployable.
      Many blacks are functionally illiterate, probably about a quarter. It’s about half in Detroit.
      On top of that, many black males have criminal records.
      Why would you hire people like this when you can hire a Mexican?
      Why would a black woman marry an unemployable man when the government will pay for her and her kids?

  • BrownSuga

    I think teachers that treat children the way they would want someone else to treat their children get more from students. Race has little to do with it. It is consistency and concern. If a child feels safe enough and gets sincerity they will work for you. They get so much and go through so much at home that they distrust everyone until someone comes in a treats them fairly. I am a teacher and I work with good teachers of all races.

  • Smacks_hoes

    Another day another random study….

  • As a teacher I do agree to this particular study. I notice how the black children seem to be awe-strucked everytime they have a white women who are a teacher or when a white women come in my class to do evaluations they can not keep their eyes off her. Many black kids are taught that white people are superior and that it is a certain way to act around them.

    • Don Quixote

      “a white women who are a teacher”??
      “when a white women come in my class”??

      Are you a reacher of Ebonics?

  • bkabbagej

    Really…Race makes no difference? Hmm…I don’t agree and I hope you feel better from your everything being about race sickness.
    Especially with our sons being used to fill the American prison system straight from the Public school systems.

    • KIR12

      Well, since 70% of the boys of all races in prison come from fatherless homes I think their home environment is a more of a factor in them going to prison than the race of their teachers.

  • Ladybug94

    The teacher that mad the most differnce to me was Mrs. Roslyn Evans. She got whole class of kids to ebrace and love Biology.

  • Shelly

    I believe all teachers make a difference. I’m so sick of everything being about race!!

    • jessevandell