The data shows that students of color perform better with teachers of color perform better. Some areas are doing worse than others. Teachers of color are becoming scarce. These are the facts. The question I have is does that show correlation or causation? What else to the studies take into account?
The past few years, I've had some of the best scores in my district, far surpassing the district average. Is it because I'm black? Most of my school is Latin@ so if all my students were black would my scores be better? All my data shows my black students are performing worse than my students of other ethnic backgrounds. Am I just an outlier? Am I not black enough? Am I not black in the right way? I grew up here, can my students not connect with me properly because I'm too close to their age? Am I too old?
Last year, I saw a white teacher get yelled at by a black teacher accused of her as being unable to get the most out of her kids because, due to her whiteness, she couldn't connect with her students. The white teacher has the best test scores in the building, the most kids voluntarily coming to tutoring, and students physically fighting to get into her class instead of whomever is teaching the other sections of the class. The black teachers scores are garbage, she mostly yells at them, and the kids wonder aloud if that teacher is an insane person. Is the white teacher just really good and the black teacher isn't? Are they both outliers? The question I'm trying to resolve is this: If, 1 to 1, two teachers (one black and one white) are teaching the same students of color doing the exact same things and giving the exact same assignments, does the research show that the black teacher will have better results than the white one? That I'm not sure I buy.
To be clear, I do believe the thesis of the argument: Teachers of color are essential and have a positive impact on students.
It's troubling that there aren't more of us. I think my being in the classroom shows my students that people of color "know things about stuff." Many of my students never met or don't personally know a black man who was a college graduate. For a while they looked at me like a unicorn and peppered me with questions about every part life, but eventually they got over it and it was business as usual.
Where did I see the benefits of my ethnicity? They showed up to class even when they skipped or got kicked out of all their others. They believed in themselves more. The started to set bigger goals. They tried new foods, visited new places, and stepped outside of their comfort zones more because I showed them that I did, and continue to do, the same. I think they had fun in class. I don't know how studies can quantify those impacts though.
Does teacher race matter?
Why All Students Need Teachers of Color