Expert: Dearth of Black Teachers not ‘Supply’ Issue


By Catharine Morris

It is no secret that the majority of teachers at schools across the nation are White. A Department of Education study from 2016 found that 82 percent of all public school teachers at the elementary and secondary level are White, quite a stark divide in an age where changes in racial demographics are moving the nation ever closer to a majority-minority future. According to the same study, the number of Black teachers has actually declined between 1987 and 2011, from 8 to 7 percent.

Popular wisdom attributes this state of affairs to a dearth of Black teachers, calling it a “supply” problem. Without enough Black teachers to fill open positions at schools, it makes sense that there would be more White teachers, or so conventional thinking goes. A new study published in the Harvard Educational Review, however, reveals that the situation might not be so cut-and-dried. Hiring practices at the district level may in fact be playing a role in artificially depressing racial representation in the classroom.

Margot McMahon