How to Get More Black, Hispanic Teachers into the Classroom

How to Get More Black, Hispanic Teachers into the Classroom

Constance LindsayExpanding the national pool of black and Hispanic college graduates can help diversify the predominantly-white teacher workforce, according to research by School of Education and Social Policy alumna Constance Lindsay (PhD10).

Mounting evidence suggests that students of color do better in school when they have at least one teacher of the same race who can serve as a role model, set higher expectations, and connect on a cultural level.

Yet in 2015, nearly half of students were not white, while less than a quarter of teachers were people of color, a gap that in some places has gotten worse, Lindsay co-wrote with Erica Blom in “Diversifying the Classroom: Examining the Teacher Pipeline,” an interactive feature published by the Urban Institute.

The researchers found that the lack of teacher diversity isn’t caused by people of color choosing professions other than teaching. “In fact, among college graduates, black and Hispanic adults enter teaching at almost the same rate as white adults.” Lindsay wrote.

Instead, the problem occurs earlier in the pipeline and “stems largely from the disparity in college-going and graduation rates,” Lindsay wrote.

“Though many policy solutions have focused on alternative pathways or incentives to encourage people of color to teach, our analysis shows that the most important first step is getting people of color through college,” Lindsay wrote.

The Urban Institute’s feature demonstrates the findings with interactive graphics that illustrate the teacher-student gap by state and city.

Lindsay, who earned her doctorate in human development and social policy at Northwestern University, is a research associate at the Urban Institute, where she studies K–12 education policies. Since leaving Northwestern, Lindsay has worked in education policy in various contexts, applying her research training in traditional studies and in creating and evaluating new systems and policies regarding teachers.

Lindsay’s areas of expertise include teacher quality and diversity, analyzing and closing racial achievement gaps, and adolescent development. Her work has been published in such journals as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Social Science Research.

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By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 11/2/17