by Danielle Katz ’18
The Department of Education reported that the K-12 teaching workforce in the United States is overwhelmingly compromised of white teachers – 82 percent to be exact. While this is widely common on a national level, the MCPS “Schools at a Glance” report (SAAG) proved Sherwood to be no stranger to this commonality in the education system.
The SAAG from 2017 reported that 74.8 percent of Sherwood’s teachers are white compared to the only 49.6 percent of all students that are white. The weight of this overwhelming ratio really comes into play when discussing long-term effects on the minority student population.
A study on the importance of faculty diversity within an education from Northwestern University revealed that minority students often perform better on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and are suspended less frequently (which may suggest either different degrees of behavior or different treatment, or both) when they have at least one same-race teacher. The research also indicates that minority students do better in school – and likely in the long run as well – when they are exposed to teachers of their same race or ethnicity. As a consequence, the underrepresentation of minority teachers relative to the proportion of minority school-aged students could be having the effect of limiting minority students’ educational success.
Drawing from personal experience, senior Alex Nnabue, President of the Black Student Union, recognizes the importance of having minority teachers from a young age.
“As an African-American student, I have had very few minority teachers but they enable me to see myself in a leadership position,” said Nnabue. “This would especially be important for elementary-aged students because they can have someone to look up to.”
Having minority teachers increase in proportion to white teachers has been proven to also provide role models for minority students. The National Education Association reports that, although teacher quality has been “accepted and internalized as a mantra for school reform,” the necessity for diversity is often marginalized, rather than accepted as an integral part of a solid education.