Black Female Students Don’t Get Suspended As Much When They Have Black Female Teachers

November 1, 2016  |  

Study after study has shown that Black students, particularly Black girls, get punished at a disproportional rate in school. But this turns out not to be the case when the students are being taught by Black teachers.

According to new research just published in the quarterly journal Education Next, Black students are less likely to be given detentions, suspensions, or expulsions when they are taught by Black educators.

Looking at teacher demographic and student discipline data for North Carolina elementary school students from 2008 to 2013, researchers from American University and University of California, Davis, found when students were taught by teachers who looked like them they were less likely to face exclusionary discipline. “Researchers found that 16 percent of Black boys in the study were subjected to exclusionary discipline when they had white women as teachers. However, when Black boys were taught by Black women, this number dropped to 14 percent. This number fell further when Black boys were taught by Black men,” reported The Huffington Post.

But the opposite was true when the students were Black and the teachers were white. “This effect is driven almost entirely by Black students, especially Black boys, who are markedly less likely to be subjected to exclusionary discipline when taught by Black teachers,” says the study. “There is little evidence of any benefit for white students of being matched with white teachers.” This held true for Black girls as well, who were less likely to get sent to detention, suspended, or expelled when they were taught by Black women, the study found.

This begs the question: why aren’t there more Black teachers? And the answer is “Teachers of color tend to have higher turnover rates than white teachers,” HuffPo reported. “These teachers often work in the hardest-to-staff schools and feel like they are not given proper autonomy, according to a recent brief from the Learning Policy Institute.”

School systems would also have to recognize the disproportional discipline rates of Black children as a problem and put forth an effort to recruit and cultivate Black teachers — or at the very least train the white teachers who are sending so-called unruly Black children to detention routinely to change these stats.

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