The Power of HBCU Trained Teachers

Previously, I encouraged those in the position of recruiting teachers to recruit teachers from historically Black colleges and universities. I specifically noted that for every Black education major graduating from a non-HBCU, there are 17 Black education majors graduating from HBCUs.

But I am aware that such a statistic isn’t necessarily enough to encourage district leaders to specifically target HBCUs to add to their faculty. But a recent study might help bolster my recommendation.

A recent study by Lavar Edmonds, a graduate student in the economics of education at Stanford University found that Black students in North Carolina public schools perform better in mathematics when their teachers were educated add an HBCU.

Edmonds specifically found that both Black and white HBCU tree teachers are more effective with Black students then they’re same race non-HBCU peers. Edmonds also found that students with HBCU trained teachers, particularly Black male students, benefited with lower suspension rates.

Edmonds writes, “in the face of concerns regarding teacher recruitment and retention and their effect on students, the results of the study speak to a simple, effective, and targeted approach for raising student treatment largely omitted from prior teacher labor market discussions.” In other words, HBCUs aren’t simply producing Black teachers but they are producing Black teachers who have the ability to maximize on the potential of black students.

Even more interesting: HBCUs are preparing white teachers to have the same impact with Black students.

Considering Pennsylvania’s need to fill teacher vacancies across the state, Pennsylvania luckily has two HBCUs in his backyard; Cheyney University of Pennsylvania with an undergraduate education program in Lincoln university with its own school of education. There’s no reason why those in the position to recruit, hire and retain black teachers aren’t engaging prospective teachers from these HBCUs.

It’s very fitting that this be the case; that HBCU train teachers do a better job working with Black students. Because HBCUs were created simply because Black students were unwelcomed at predominantly white higher education institutions.

When we consider the collateral cost of the poor way that the Brown decision was implemented, Black students were transferred to predominantly white schools, where they were no longer taught by educators who look like them; educators who knew their families and lived in their neighborhoods. Because of how Brown was implemented, Black students were taught largely by white faculty that had preconceived ideas about not only their intelligence but their humanity, and therefore did not have high expectations of them.

In addition, the Black teachers and administrators who did have high expectations for Black students were exited from education due to the Brown decision, but I digress.

However, when Black students are in governance spaces; spaces where Black children can see themselves and each other as they seen by their Black teachers—as human beings because those see teachers see themselves—Black students can perform to their academic potential. It makes perfect sense that Black teachers, instructed on how to be a teacher within governance spaces—like HBCUs—can transfer governance knowledge to the classroom whereby rigor, expectation, and care for Black students means something different as opposed to what it means absence a level of cultural fluency.

Prospective Black teachers, instructed by Black scholars of education to teach Black children matters.

HBCUs, like any higher education institution, has its struggles and areas in need of improvement. HBCUs specifically struggle with underfunding. Both public and private HBCUs experienced the deepest declines in federal funding per full-time equivalent student and HBCU endowments lag behind non-HBCUs by at least 70%. Nevertheless, HBCUs are doing the work of producing Black educators and equipping them to get the most out of Black students.

Seems like we (those who claim to care about the education of Black children) ought to get the most out of HBCUs and put more Black teachers in more classrooms, specifically if front of Black children.


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