OK, here we go again with another survey. This one, conducted at Johns Hopkins University, says black students---especially those who come from low-income families---tend to fare better in school when they are taught by a black teacher.
The study involved about 100 thousand black students from North Carolina who entered third through fifth grade between 2001 and 2005. According to Nicholas Papageorge, the caucasian Johns Hopkins University economist who co-authored the study, when black students were taught by black teachers they demonstrated higher test scores and less likely to become a drop out statistic. He also found that race played a profound role in how teachers judged a student’s abilities. “When a black teacher and a white teacher looked at the same black student, the white teacher was about 40 percent less likely to predict the student would finish high school.” And I’m willing to bet she/he would be less likely to encourage the black student to do better—instead setting that black male student up for failure and the pipeline to prison.
No disrespect to Papageorge, but this is the overwhelming sentiment in the black community and has been for MANY years. We KNOW the significance and impact a black teacher has on the life of a black student who may or may not be struggling. There’s something called the identity factor. It’s a well known fact that children, as well as adults, relate better to people and things they feel most comfortable with. Black children have black mothers (for the most part) and other relatives. In many instances, the black teachers they interact with remind them of their mothers, aunties or even grandmas and, as any black child will tell you, you WILL respect them---even when you don’t like what they do. And back in the day we all know if that teacher threatened to call your parents, you were doomed.
The late NASA Astronaut Ronald McNair is a wonderful example of a man who succeeded despite all the odds set up against him. He was raised in the segregated South (South Carolina), went to all-black schools (including college) and was all the while being encouraged and motivated by his black teachers. Most black teachers understand the black child experience and can be more nurturing because of their own experiences growing up.
As a mother and grandmother, I made it a point to see that my daughter and grandson had a black teacher influence in their lives because they deserve a chance to succeed and be appreciated for who they are and very few white teachers know what that means for our kids.
Perhaps this study would have more merit for me if the researchers did a comparison study on black baby boomers versus black millennials. That might shed some light on differences in attitudes, since millennials are supposed to be the most diverse generation compared to baby boomers---many of whom were just starting to benefit from the Civil Rights movement. Perhaps there is a not only a racial gap but also a generational divide when it comes to education.
And I didn't get one dime for my expert opinion. Ha!