by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Madeline Will at Education Week reports on a new Fordham Institute study that examined teacher demographics in North Carolina district and charter schools.
Black students in charter schools are more likely to have black teachers than their peers in traditional public schools, which can lead to academic gains in math, a new study shows.
The study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank that also authorizes charter schools in Ohio, examined data from grades 3 to 5 in North Carolina’s traditional and charter public schools, from 2006-07 through 2012-13.
The findings show that traditional public schools and charter schools serve the same proportion of black students, but charter schools have about 35 percent more black teachers. Black students in charter schools are more than 50 percent more likely to have at least one black teacher than their counterparts in traditional public schools, while white students are equally likely to have at least white teacher in both types of schools.
This is one of the many reasons why black parents may want their children to attend a charter school. And academic benefits may follow. Will writes,
A growing body of research has found that black students benefit from having black teachers, both academically and socially. Black elementary students performed better in math and reading when they had a teacher who was the same race as them, according to one recent study. Another set of studies found that black students are more likely to both graduate from high school and enroll in college when they have just one black teacher in elementary school.
And black students are more likely to be placed in gifted education programs if they have a black teacher, and less likely to receive suspensions, expulsions, or detentions from black teachers. Research has found that black teachers have higher expectations for black students—and white teachers’ lower expectations for black students can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Seth Gershenson, the study’s author, is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University.