In his American Families Plan, President Joe Biden expressed the importance of investing in a racially diverse teaching workforce. His plan calls for Congress to invest $9 billion in programs that improve training and support for teachers, address teacher shortages and increase teacher diversity. Currently, more than half of our nation’s student population identify as Black, Indigenous, or other non-Black people of color (BIPOC), while only 20 percent of teachers identify this way. To increase racial diversity among America’s educators, it is critical for states to develop programs that recruit and support Black men entering the teaching profession.
Teachers are our children’s earliest role models outside of the home, yet only 2 percent of the nation’s teachers are Black men. Why is it so hard to attract and retain Black teachers, especially Black male teachers? Student loan debt may be a barrier for teachers of color to enter the profession, as graduates of color are more likely to have student loan debt than white graduates. Moreover, all teachers face a pay penalty: they are not paid as well as their similarly educated peers. For Black males who may be the first generation to attend college or who do not have family wealth, the price of entry to the teaching profession can serve as a deterrent when other careers offer more immediate financial gain.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill.
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