Where Are All the Black Teachers? Discrimination in the Teacher Labor Market

Spring, 2017

Source: Harvard Educational Review; Spring 2017; 87(1).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines the role of race in teacher hiring process.

The authors used a unique data set comprising all of the applications for teaching positions in a single, large school district during academic year 2012-2013.
The authors also used student population and principal data for schools in the district that hired for the 2012-2013 school year, including priority school designation and demographic information regarding race, ethnicity, and free and reduced-price lunch participation published on the district's website.
The authors analyzed the extent to which race is associated with principals ' hiring decisions.

The findings reveal that the Hispanic and Asian teachers were hired proportionally to the rate at which they applied. This finding suggests that the low numbers for these groups may indeed reflect a supply problem.
The findings show that while Black candidates submitted 13 percent of applications, a proportion greater than the percentage of Black students in the district, their chances of getting hired were low, with only 6 percent offered positions. The authors also found that black teachers were more likely to be hired in schools with large populations of minority children or children in poverty.

These findings have important implications.
First, the authors argue that supply alone cannot explain the demographic composition of the teacher labor market. They argue that the persistent focus on supply is the byproduct of a lack of historical engagement and racialized assumptions and ideologies.
Second, the authors found that when Black teachers were hired in the district, they were separated into schools with children of color or children in poverty. Black teachers were near absent from schools with large populations of White students. The authors argue that this implies that racial antagonisms continue to erupt across the nation.

The authors conclude that these findings offer powerful evidence of the ways in which race and discriminatory behaviors continue to infuse and shape public schools, arguably the nation's most important social institutions. 

Updated: Jul. 04, 2018