Scholar Examines the Decrease in Black Teachers and What to Do About It

Valerie Hill-Jackson, clinical professor of critical teacher education in the Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development, has conducted extensive research on Black teachers in the nation’s public school systems. She reports that in the decade after the Brown v. Board of Education, 45,000 Black teachers lost their jobs. Today, African Americans make up just 7 percent of the 3.2 million teachers in the United States. Black men are just 2 percent of all teachers.

Through her research, Dr. Hill-Jackson has come up with several recommendations to increase the number of Black teachers. First, she urges schools of education at colleges and universities throughout the United States to increase their efforts to recruit and support students of color who have expressed interest in a teaching career. This includes providing scholarships for deserving Black students. She also says public school districts must increase their efforts to make Black teachers feel welcome and offer them support in order to increase retention among their ranks.

“Whether we’re putting together a group in our community or we’re trying to staff a school, we need to make sure that these institutions reflect who we are as Americans,” Dr. Hill-Jackson said. “All of us say that we believe in democracy, in theory, but this is our opportunity to implement diversity ideas into practice.”

Dr. Hill-Jackson joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 2004. She is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she majored in biology and environmental studies. Dr. Hill-Jackson earned a master’s degree from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, and an educational doctorate from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Jerald L. Henderson, Ph.D. says:

    The strategies to increase the African American pool of teachers mentioned by Dr. Hill-Jackson are good ones, however, I would also add the importance of grooming students during their K through 12 years not only to consider teaching but to have the necessary academic preparation to enter and succeed in a College of Education program. This would of course include being able to think critically in order to pass all state required exams that lead to licensure. The challenges and hurdles to become certified to teach seem to have grown exponentially and they often times discourage students who might consider teaching as a profession.

    • Karl A. Wright says:

      I totally agree. Start when the students are in primary school. Explain and show the significance with real life examples of the importance of having a teacher who looks just like the student. Studies have shown the increase in the student’s participation, readiness and their grades when being taught by a teacher who resembles them.

  2. being there says:

    Dr. Hill-Jackson your article reminded me of the comments we wrote in the 1960’s and 70’s and 80’s and 90’s. My fear is that during the time of “TRUMP”, specific funds for students of color, especially African-American or Latino students are being deliberately reduced, being attacked and sued. It is our turn. Our Churches, Clubs, and Groups must take on this void.

    We must find effective ways to encourage more parents and other adults to began talking with our children BEFORE their senior year. Thinking College really begins in Kindergarten, However, beginning in 7th and 8th grade is great. Visiting Colleges in their city or on vacation. Visit Colleges, Visit museums, Visit cultural events. Expand their minds. If we do not, especially for our boys, do not rely on schools to take on these task.

    We must save our children!!!!

    We still must continue to encourage MORE of our students to study longer, engage a plan to increase their grades, take more academic courses, and remember: “GRADES ARE MONEH”!!!!!

  3. Katie Singer says:

    Yes, it is so true that the teacher certification process is onerous at best in many states, and
    it deters teachers. So counter-intuitive. As well, we must consider the cultural message that so many young African Americans receive to “do better” than their parents, etc. This usually implies an increased salary. Teachers do not make a lot of money and the fact is it was historically one of the only professions that African Americans were able to break into at one point. Complicated stuff and an important study.

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