RELEASE: Student Debt Is Blunting Efforts to Improve Teacher Diversity

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report looking at the disproportionate student loan debt burden experienced by educators of color. The report follows recent studies showing that schools struggle to recruit a diverse teacher workforce and that teachers of color, especially Black teachers, leave the profession at higher rates than their white peers. This is particularly troubling given that all students, but especially students of color, benefit from having a diverse teacher workforce.

The report relies on data from National Center for Education Statistics Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) for its analysis. Key findings from the report include:

  • 91 percent of Black students and 82 percent of Latinx students who trained to teach borrowed federal student loans, compared with 76 percent of white students.
  • Of individuals who have taught, 88 percent of Black students and 76 percent of Latinx students took out federal student loans to pay for college, compared with 73 percent of white students.
  • Black students who trained to teach had higher median federal student loan debt in 2012 ($26,405) than they had in 2008 ($22,699)—the only group to realize this trend.
  • In 2015-2016, Black teachers earned less on average compared with their white counterparts—$52,420 and 55,120, respectively.

Building on CAPs recently released “A Quality Education for Every Child” policy agenda, this report also includes a series of policy recommendations for mitigating the effects of teachers’ student debt burden—especially for teachers of color, including:

  • Increase teachers’ salaries
  • Conduct more research on student repayment holistically
  • Use district- or state-based loan forgiveness programs and scholarships as a recruitment tool for a diverse teacher workforce
  • Expand high-quality alternative certification programs that focus on increasing teacher diversity
  • Increase support for teacher preparation programs at minority-serving institutions
  • Make funds available for additional out-of-pocket expenses such as licensure fees and classroom supplies

“Even though the majority of students in America’s public schools are nonwhite and studies have shown that these students’ perform better in classrooms with teachers of the same race, still just 1 in 5 teachers in America identify as people of color,” said Bayliss Fiddiman, senior policy analyst for K-12 Education at CAP. “This report shows that not only are teachers entering a field that pays them less than similarly educated professionals, but the cost of entrance is a greater burden for teachers of color.”

Please click here to read “Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity” by Bayliss Fiddiman, Colleen Campbell, and Lisette Partelow.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at cseeberger@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6292.