Before the 2020-21 school year, Christa Talbott, a 20-year veteran of New Orleans schools, had never considered leaving the profession she loved this early.

But then came a dispiriting spring trying to stay connected to her students while Covid-19’s first wave ravaged her hometown. George Floyd’s murder that May left her reeling, exhausted and eager for racial reckoning on her home turf. Talbott, who is Black, began to push for change at a school that, despite its reputation for progressive politics, bore the last name of a Confederate official and dedicated proponent of school segregation, Robert Mills Lusher.

In the summer of 2020, Talbott and her colleagues asked for a meeting with the charter school’s leaders to discuss racial justice at Lusher, one of the city’s most coveted for families and teachers alike; they also created an antiracism group for teachers. It did not go over well. By the end of 2020, the 44-year-old was agonizing over whether the school year might be her last teaching there.

“I was tired of being quiet,” she says. “I was tired of sitting back so that white people could feel comfortable.”

Lusher, like America, has long had a teacher diversity problem: Slightly more than 20 percent of public school teachers—who include those at charter schools— in the U.S. identify as people of color, compared with more than half of students. Only 7 percent of teachers identify as Black. At Lusher, in 2020, 13 percent of teachers were Black compared with 22 percent of the students.

The research has been clear for years that many of our schools struggle less with recruiting diverse educators than retaining them: between 1988 and 2018, the number of teachers of color hired by the country’s schools increased at a faster rate than the number of white teachers, yet those diverse educators also left their positions much more quickly, on average.

Now, as Talbott’s story underscores, the problem could be poised to get worse, with Black teachers in particular feeling increased strain.

Read the full article about the shortage of Black teachers by Sarah Carr at The Hechinger Report.