In 2020, many of our education leaders were shaken to the reality that our public education system continues to resign our Black and Brown children to something well short of the full promise of America.

Many education leaders are, rightly, seeing the growing (and historic) evidence of the essential and powerful role that Black and Brown educators can play in improving academic and social outcomes for all students, but especially Black and Brown students.  But with Black men comprising just 2 percent and Black teachers overall accounting for just 7 percent of the teaching force, we have a long way to go on this front.

I firmly believe that we can build a more diverse teaching profession, but we must interrogate the structural barriers as well as the latent biases in ourselves and our systems to do so. Here’s what we at the Center for Black Educator Development are learning about what that looks like:

  1. Our Youth Must be Part of the Solution.  We must support the interest of young Black and Brown students in teaching.
  2. Our systems matter. How we architect and invest in our teacher recruitment and development system is critical.
  3. Who teaches the teachers matters. We need to look hard at our teacher preparation programs’ cultural competencies for the aspiring teachers.
  4. Data matters.  Some states do not provide easy access to data on teacher recruitment, effectiveness, retention and attrition.
  5. Creating a professional work environment for a diverse teaching corps requires interrogating its racial bias. Schools and districts must be more intentional in interrogating the racial biases that exist inside of their schools and districts.
  6. Don’t half-step or advance simplistic solutions to complex and long-standing issues. If we are resolving to solve the lack of educator diversity in our country, we need a comprehensive plan – one that includes financial incentives and supports, a longer runway, teacher apprenticeships for high school and college students, coaching, mentoring, and programming.

Read the full article about building the Black teacher pipeline by Sharif El-Mekki at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.