A 40-page report released by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) reveals that Black teacher scarcity may be attributed to factors including desegregation, racism, and the incorporation of standardized tests that result in Black teachers losing their license.
The report, titled “The Heart Work of Hard Work: Black Teacher Pipeline Best Practices at HBCU Teacher Education Programs,” found that teacher certification exams used to screen effectiveness eliminated nearly 100,000 minority teachers in 35 states between the late 1970s and early 1990s.
UNCF’s report identifies recruitment, curricular, and co-curricular best practices implemented at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as major producers of Black teachers for America’s public education system. It provides some best practices four UNCF-member HBCUs — Huston-Tillotson University, Alabama A&M University, Albany State University, and Fayetteville State University — shared to strengthen the Black teacher pipeline. The participating institutions were listed among the top 25 four-year HBCUs that produce Black teacher college graduates in various K-12 education fields.
“Black teachers are essential to Black students’ educational, social, and emotional development. Yet, Black teachers only make up 7% of teachers in America,” said Dr. Keeley Copridge, senior research associate, Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, UNCF, and one of the report's authors. Dr. Nadrea Njoku, Dr. LaTasha Mosley, Dr. Raeshan Davis, and Dr. Brittny James were also authors of the report.
The report noted how Black teachers impact Black students’ educational development by serving as role models, improving their educational experience, improving graduation and college enrollment rates, increasing Black students’ reading and mathematics state scores, and increasing end-of-year grades.
“To meet the diversification of America’s P-12 system, it is essential that we strengthen the Black teacher pipeline,” said Copridge. “Historically Black colleges and universities are critical conduits in the Black teacher pipeline.”
HBCUs further account for only 3% of colleges and universities but produce 15% of Black graduates overall and 50% of all Black educators, according to UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.
The UNCF report highlighted the need to leverage external partnerships to prepare students pursuing careers in teaching to transition to their role as educators. It provided best-practice steps for such producers of would-be Black educators: continued research and analysis of culturally responsive curriculum in teacher education programs; examination of the validity of teacher certification exams and potential barriers promoting the exclusion of specific student populations; advocating at the federal and state level for funding for HBCU teacher education programs; engaging private organizations to partner with HBCU teacher education programs to assist in supporting future educators; increasing funding resources for HBCU faculty to implement innovative practices; and continued establishment and promotion of non-traditional pathways to becoming an educator.
Report findings will be discussed Feb. 13, as part of the Equity in Education: Advancing Opportunities for Black Teachers and Parents virtual learning series.