Teachers of color must be supported inside US schools 

The mistreatment of teachers of color in the U.S. dates back to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In the Brown v. Board ruling, the U.S.

The mistreatment of teachers of color in the U.S. dates back to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In the Brown v. Board ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that separating children on the basis of race within public schools was unconstitutional. While the Brown v. Board ruling was a step forward for racial equality in many ways, it also led to a series of negative consequences. 

Following the court’s decision, some school boards found loopholes in an attempt to cling to their ideas of racial segregation and discrimination. During the process of integration, Black teachers and principals were often either fired due to the disapproval of white families enrolling their students in schools with Black staff or put into schools where they were treated poorly by other white teachers, administrators, and students. According to a study titled “The Rise and Fall of Black Teachers and Principals in U.S. Public Schools Since Brown v. Board,” the number of white high school principals grew by 67 percent amidst a 30 percent decline in Black principals following the Brown v. Board ruling. Later, in the mid-1970s, Black teachers were still being hired at slower rates and fired at faster rates, resulting in an overall decrease of educators of color in the classroom.

The patterns of mistreatment of educators of color that began with different school board’s actions after Brown v. Board can still be found in school communities across the nation today, representing how a seemingly progressive action can be made in society but still be overpowered by the ingrained racial injustices and discrimination in U.S. institutions. A 2021 study published in the Sage Journals titled “The Retention of Educators of Color Amidst Institutionalized Racism,” found that over 75 percent of teachers sampled reported a negative sense of belonging, especially when they thought school districts would not take adequate action in devising policies that address the equity of teachers of color in the classroom. The study also stated that teachers of color leave the workforce at a rate 25 percent higher than their white counterparts. 

Throughout the nation, when racism in a school or community towards staff of color goes unaddressed, it is the students of color that are impacted the most. In a study titled “Teacher Race and School Discipline,” which analyzed the correlation of teacher-student race matching and school discipline, it was revealed that Black and Hispanic students are less likely to take Advanced Placement or other gifted courses in the absence of teachers of color as well as being less likely to excel academically. It was also found that matching students with teachers who share the same racial background as them resulted in a dramatic 12 percent decrease in the number of students experiencing exclusionary discipline. 

Two studies cited in an article titled “The Experiences of Teachers of Color” by the Harvard Graduate School of Education analyzed the results of focus groups made up of 150 Black teachers and 90 Latino teachers from public schools across the country. These studies shed light on the mental and psychological challenges educators of color endure in the education workforce. The studies found that “both Black and Latino teachers continually felt they had to prove their worth as educators,” and that “they felt they were overlooked for advancement, undervalued as experts in their subject area, and had to prove their qualifications to parents.” 

The mistreatment of teachers of color within our educational institutions is a systemic issue dating back to the last century. This ultimately lowers the success rates of students of color while also taking a great psychological toll on educators from underrepresented backgrounds. Public schools and school districts as a whole can ensure that this issue is not overlooked by properly addressing incidents and patterns of racism towards staff of color, in order to strive to preserve and increase the population of teachers of color in the classroom and ensure that all students have equal access to a learning environment where they can feel safe and supported.