"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Black Male Principal, My Children Must Be Really Lucky

The demographics of teachers and students in US public schools are clearly not matched. Although more than 40 percent of students in public schools belong to minority groups, about 80 percent of teachers are white. Of course, a dearth in principals of color is only expected from a shortage of teachers of color. Indeed, based on a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, Results From the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey, 80 percent of school principals are white, only 7 percent are Hispanic, and only 10 percent are African American. Noting that no more than 2 percent of teachers in the public education system are black men makes one realize how highly unlikely it is to find a black male serving as a principal. The principal in the school my children attend is truly a rarity.

Mason Crest Elementary School principal, Brian Butler, with my daughter
It is indeed rare, but is it good for my children? A study published in the Educational Researher says so. Based on data obtained from the Measure of Effective Teaching study which includes more than 1500 teachers in 200 urban schools and more than 50000 middle school students, Black and Latino teachers are perceived more favorably than White teachers. Minority teachers score better on the following seven criteria:
  • Challenge: How well does the teacher motivate students to high academic standards?
  • Classroom Management (Control): How well does the teacher manage the behavior of students in the classroom?
  • Care: How well does the teacher build supportive relationships with students?
  • Confer: How well does the teacher welcome the opinions of students?
  • Captivate: How well does the teacher stimulate students’ interest in course material?
  • Clarify: How well does the teacher use multiple strategies to explain course material to students?
  • Consolidate: How well does the teacher make connections among the concepts taught?
The results are summarized in the following figure:

Above copied from
Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter F. Halpin
The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Versus White Teachers.
Educational Researcher October 2016 45: 407-420,first published on October 5, 2016 doi:10.3102/0013189X16671718
Of course, the biggest argument for minority teachers and principals is the fact that values are often caught not taught. Minority educators provide good role models for students to see. When I was in elementary and high school, most of my teachers were female so the thought of becoming a basic education teacher never really crossed my mind. Unlike me, my children, through their own direct experiences, will grow up not with minority stereotypes. On top of that, the rarity apparently comes with more effective educators. And I know that in the specific case of the school my children attend, this is true. My children are indeed lucky.


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