Texas needs more teachers of ethnic and racial diversity to keep up with its growing and diverse student population.
Studies have shown that students in classrooms with teachers who look like them are more likely to do better in school, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News. In Texas, 48 percent of students are Latino. Blacks make up another 14 percent of students.
So with a three-fifths minority student population, diverse teachers are in high demand. Unfortunately, the current teacher statistics don’t reflect the students they serve. Minority teachers made up just shy of 32 percent of all teachers – 22 percent Latino and 9.6 percent Black, respectively.
The problem with the lack of diverse teachers in the classroom starts in the college classroom at Texas universities. Fewer students are choosing the teaching profession despite nontraditional ways available to enter the classroom, such as post-baccalaureate courses and internships. Even prior to the recession, coveted minority students had chosen higher-paying careers in other fields.
Experts at the University of Texas at Austin say that having teachers of the same ethnicity as students is not simply a matter of matching based on race. “It is important for role modeling and pushing those students to go to college,” said Ed Fuller, associate director of University Council for Educational Administration on the campus.
That belief matches the results of a 2004 study at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The study found that black and white students performed better on state tests under teachers of their own race. Another study from the Education Resources Information Center showed that Latino students had similar results with teachers from their ethnic background. It is believed that diverse teachers remove cultural barriers that can hinder student performance in other settings.
For now, the 328,000 teachers currently in Texas will be joined by a small group of diverse professionals in this year’s pool among the 30,000-35,000 new teachers.