Walter Hunt, a recent graduate from University of Houston’s Executive Education Doctorate in Professional Leadership program, conducted a study that found that black students do not necessarily need black teachers to succeed, reports the Huffington Post.
“At first glance, it would appear that teacher race doesn’t matter when addressing student achievement of minority students, but there are many layers involved when analyzing achievement of a middle-school student, such as racial identity, self-identity, age, involvement in school activities,” Hunt said in a University of Houston release. “In this particular study, I was surprised to see that the campuses with more African-American teachers did not have the highest African-American student achievement. This just goes to show that having a positive impact on students is a complex, multi-layered process,” he added.
According to Hunt’s researchers, which was conducted in Texas, the education achievement gap between black and white students was higher on campuses with a higher percentage of black teachers.
Some teachers disagree that there is little to no relevance in teachers and students having shared cultural experiences.
“I know there’s an added impact with shared background at an elementary school level,” said David Nungaray a Teach for America teacher at San Antonio’s Hispanic Bonham Academy, in an interview with The Huffington Post last year. “I talk about my family and my background. This is a going-back-to-my-roots experience — I teach in a setting that reminds me of where I grew up. The impact I’ve had can be attributed to this shared background with my students,” he said.
Speaking as someone who had primarily white teachers in elementary and high schools, I can honestly say that I don’t feel as if I lacked anything in my educational experiences. My culture was defined by my environment outside of school and my teachers never became my compass for self-identification. On the flip side of the same coin, I did find extreme comfort and solidarity in attending HBCU’s where I could easily see black people striving, learning and successful. It was a place where I could soak up not only what they taught in textbooks, but their life experiences — professionally and in a societal context — that would more than likely mirror my own.
Weigh in Clutchettes: Did you have black teachers growing up? Do you feel that your experience was better or worse because of it?