Is a Career in Education Meant for People of Color?

The past few weeks, I have struggled with a few race-related, education-based events that have occurred within our Kansas City community. And the events have me pondering a few questions:

“Is the field of education designed for teachers of color to quit? Is the system designed to prevent teachers of color from succeeding?” Or when asked differently, “When a teacher of color quits, does the system win?”

According to a report from the Education Trust, “although greater numbers of Latino teachers are entering the classroom, they […] are leaving the profession at higher rates than their White peers.” Black teachers are also leaving the teaching profession at higher rates than their White counterparts; “National data points to a somewhat larger overall turnover disparity of about seven percentage points between black and white teachers (22 versus 15 percent, respectively). The reality is that “teachers tend to be white, female, and have nearly a decade and a half of experience in the classroom”.

So why is it that even when data show that ALL students benefit from being exposed to diverse teachers, school systems still struggle to retain them?

Maybe educators of color are just not welcomed (and maybe that’s the way the experience is designed to play out). One article explains it well: “Minority teachers are more likely to work in schools with high concentrations of students of color. But because of unconscious and overt biases, […] school administrators do not always value those teachers’ experiences the way they should.”

And if my hypothesis is correct, how do we disrupt the system? What mechanisms could we implement to ensure that teachers of color are retained? Or do we just start over and create a new system?

I would love to hear (read) your thoughts.


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