When it comes to the educational system in the U.S., Black educators are significantly underrepresented across the board. In fact, many students will never have a Black teacher throughout their entire educational journey. This shortcoming not only affects the educators themselves but also the students. A lack of representation in the educational system, especially in the STEM fields, impacts the learning and performance of students and the communities in which they reside. It is important to address the true impact of educational injustice in the U.S. and what can be done to reach racial parity among educators in schools.
Understanding the Lack of Black Educators in the U.S.
The alarming lack of Black educators in the U.S. is not something that should be overlooked. Recent studies have shown how truly disproportionate the number of Black educators to educators of other races is in our school systems and how that affects students. Of particular note:
- Black students account for 15% of public school students yet only 7% of educators in the workforce are Black.
- Less than 2% of active educators are Black men.
- Black students who have at least two Black educators in elementary school are 32% more likely to pursue a college degree, which can lead to better jobs and greater levels of wealth creation.
- To reach a proportional representation of Black educators to Black students, the workforce would need to add 300,000 more Black teachers.
How a Lack of Black Educators Impacts Student Learning
For Black students attending public schools, their education is often affected by the fact that they mostly encounter white educators. It is important for young Black students to be able to see themselves represented in their educators. Having the opportunity to connect with someone who has faced similar life experiencesTo enhance their learning experience and outcomes, they must connect with someone who has shared similar experiences so that they can properly direct their future. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of Black students who graduate and go to college and the number of Black educators they encounter in their educational career.
Robert F. Smith’s Dedication to Educational Justice
Robert F. Smith has been a longtime advocate for achieving educational justice within the U.S. school system. His parents were educators and taught him both the importance of education and the need for representation. Smith supports a variety of educationally-focused organizations, such as Student Freedom Initiative, where he serves as Chairman. This Initiative directly supports students who are wanting to pursue higher education within the STEM fields through student loan support, educational resources and internship opportunities. The hope is that, post-graduation, these students work to advance the STEM fields or help pass on their learning in the form of teaching without the crushing burden of student debt but with the resources needed to live fulfilling careers.
He has also made donations to his alma maters, Cornell and Columbia Universities, to help perpetuate and support the education of students from underserved communities. The power of helping Black students today can help shape the future for the entire generation of Black students to come.
Learn more about what Student Freedom Initiative is doing to support students of color across the U.S.