An analysis of Tennessee’s teaching workforce shows schools in the state are struggling to recruit black teachers. And, even if these teachers do get into the pipeline, many quickly shift to another school.
So classrooms serving the state’s neediest students are often disrupted over and over again, says Jason Grissom, author of a new study on teacher turnover from the Tennessee Education Research Alliance.
"Teachers of color are systematically teaching in schools that have high concentrations of poverty, low achievement, large numbers of kids of color," Grissom says. "So those are exactly the schools where you’d like to have a very stable teaching workforce."
He says black teachers in the state aren’t any more likely than white teachers to exit the profession altogether.
Grissom says racial gaps in Tennessee’s teaching workforce may be due to black teachers not being recruited to the field in the first place. In fact, only about 13% of teachers in the state are non-white.
He says schools also ought to focus on creating a more positive and diverse working environment.
"Thinking about how to provide teachers with the resources they need to be effective to and feel effective in a challenging environment is really important," Grissom says.
And, Grissom’s research has found, schools with black principals are more likely to retain black teachers.