A turnover gap for minority teachers

Black and Latino teachers are leaving the profession “in droves,” says Betty Achinstein, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the co-author of Change(d) Agents: New Teachers of Color in Urban Schools.

“Teachers of color” make up only 17 percent of the teaching force, despite the rising percentage of minority students, reports Miller-McCune.  Schools are hiring more minority teachers, but also losing more, says Richard Ingersoll, a Penn professor of education.

According to the Penn study, more than half of all public school minority teachers are working in high-poverty, high-minority urban schools, compared to only one-fifth of white teachers, though white teachers still make up the majority of teachers in those schools.

The turnover rate for minority teachers was 24 percent higher than for whites in 2008-09, the Penn study found.  Difficult working conditions drive teachers out. “The reality is, the minority teachers are not more likely than white teachers to stay in those tough places,” Ingersoll said.

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  1. I know that the paper says that there’s been an increase in minority teachers, but at the middle school level, that simply doesn’t appear to be true. CSU teacher programs have been decimated, literally since NCLB testing requirements in 2002.

    So maybe minority teachers leave the profession at a higher rate, but there are a lot fewer of them credentialed the usual way.

  2. Did the researchers look at whether race was a factor in teacher turnover after controlling for things like undergraduate GPA and PRAXIS scores? Academically weaker teachers of whatever color are presumably more likely to quit the profession than stronger ones. If minorities are disproportionately represented among the academically weakest teachers, that might explain the difference in turnover.

    It’s the whole vicious cycle thing- if the teachers themselves attended poor schools (as many minorities in the U.S. do), they will have a much harder time being effective in teaching the next generation of students. It’s difficult to teach material well that you don’t fully grasp yourself.

  3. Is there any evidence that minority teachers do a better job teaching minority students? I’ve never seen such a study — not sure if it is out there.

  4. This is a heck on an interesting topic with lots of ramifications, aka opportunities for digressions.

    I have an opinion on the matter, one that is weak enough to be altered by some facts and research, but to express it would create more heat than light.

    And I’m talking about the kind of heat that can be blinding. What we need is, bright, warm light.

    On this particular topic, I’m a lot more interested in learning more than upsetting the ethnocentric stupid-heads.

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    One would imagine that any study that found such data would be immediately covered up and destroyed, and the researchers entombed beneath the sand for fear that it would result in white parents demanding white teachers for their kids.

    One would also imagine that such a study, even if it were completed, would actually have very little to do with the biological race of the teacher (how the hell would you determine that???) and almost everything to do with cultural markers such as dialect, mannerisms, manners, and mores. Disaggregating the results would be next to impossible. You’d have to end up relying on some cockamamie “self-identification” test which would then be essentially useless.

  6. Well, I just haven’t observed it. Superstar teachers are few and far between, but I’ve been lucky to work with one who happened to be African American (with all the “cultural markers” of being such) — an amazing teacher — but she was no more effective with African American students than terrific white teachers, much though she tried.

    My observations are next to useless as data, but enough to make me wonder at all the hand-wringing. If it doesn’t matter for student achievement, and the teachers are moving on to better work, good on them.