<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Tuesday,  June 18 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Nation & World

U.S. has a teacher shortage; historically Black schools are helping to address that

'There’s something to be said for the environment that’s cultivated, the way they connect with their students'

By Annie Ma, Associated Press
Published: February 25, 2023, 8:14pm
5 Photos
Student teacher Lana Scott teaches the alphabet to a small group of kinder-gartners Jan. 24 at Whitehall Elementary School in Bowie, Md.
Student teacher Lana Scott teaches the alphabet to a small group of kinder-gartners Jan. 24 at Whitehall Elementary School in Bowie, Md. (julia nikhinson/ Associated Press) Photo Gallery

BOWIE, Md. — Surrounded by kindergartners, Lana Scott held up a card with upper- and lower-case Ys, dotted with pictures of words that started with that letter: Yo-yo. Yak. Yacht.

“What sound does Y make?” Scott asked a boy. Head down, he mumbled: “Yuh.” Instead of moving on, she gave him a nudge.

“Say it confident, because you know it,” she urged.

He sat up and sounded it out again, louder this time. Scott smiled and turned her attention to the other kids in her session.

As a student teacher from Bowie State University, a historically Black institution, Scott said she has learned to build deep connections with students. The school, Whitehall Elementary, is filled with teachers and administrators who graduated from Bowie State. Classrooms refer to themselves as families, and posters on the wall ask children to reflect on what makes a good classmate.

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) play an outsized role in producing teachers of color in the U.S., where only 7 percent of teachers are Black, compared with 15 percent of students. Of all Black teachers nationwide, nearly half are graduates of an HBCU.

Having teachers who look like them is crucial for young Americans. Research has found Black students who have at least one Black teacher are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be suspended or expelled. Some new research suggests the training found at HBCUs may be part of what makes an effective teacher.

A recent study of elementary school students in North Carolina found Black students performed better in math when taught by an HBCU-educated teacher.

“There’s something to be said for the environment that’s cultivated, the way they connect with their students, the inspiration, the vulnerability that they may have with their students,” said Stanford University graduate student Lavar Edmonds, who conducted the study.

In Edmonds’ study, the teacher’s race did not have an impact on student outcomes, but their training did. For Black students, Black and white HBCU-trained teachers were more effective than their non-HBCU-trained counterparts.

HBCUs also have received recognition as key players in solving teacher shortages around the country. The U.S. Department of Education this month announced $18 million in awards for minority-serving institutions including HBCUs, highlighting the role they play in building a more diverse teaching force.

Bowie State faculty, students and alumni said their training focused on building a strong sense of community and connecting with students as individuals.

“It’s making sure that your students just feel safe at school,” Scott said.

The training places an emphasis on culturally responsive teaching, said Rhonda Jeter, dean of the school’s College of Education.

“People are doing the research to validate what we’ve been doing all along,” Jeter said. “When they go to places where students are students of color, I don’t think they’re uncomfortable.”

The tradition of training educators at HBCUs dates back to before the Civil War.

Founded in the 1800s to educate Black Americans who were not allowed to study at other colleges, many HBCUs first existed in some form as “normal schools,” or training programs for teachers.

Training at HBCUs provides an immersion in Black culture and an understanding that teachers can bring that to classrooms, said Sekou Biddle, a vice president at the United Negro College Fund.

Loading...