Perspectives from 5 Black Teachers: Experiences of Bias, Added Work, and Isolation

Strategies to Attract and Retain Black Teachers

In California, the recruitment and retention of Black teachers is a critical discussion. The state’s efforts to hire and retain Black educators face challenges, including a teacher shortage that amplifies the need for action.

Exploring the barriers preventing Black individuals from entering the teaching profession and examining the biases and lack of support they encounter offers valuable insights.

Discover how California and its school districts are actively working to recruit and retain Black teachers, shedding light on ongoing initiatives and areas that require further attention.

Despite longstanding efforts by California school districts to increase Black teacher representation, progress remains stagnant. The financial barriers associated with teacher preparation, coupled with uncompensated student teaching obligations, hinder Black individuals pursuing teaching credentials. Furthermore, inadequate support and recognition contribute to the challenge of retaining Black educators in the classroom.

In the 2020-21 academic year, only 3.8% of teachers in California identified as Black, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This figure contrasts with Black students comprising 5.2% of the state’s student population during the same period.

Research indicates that the presence of Black teachers benefits all students, particularly students of color, leading to improved academic performance and graduation rates.

Insight from Krystle Goff

Krystle Goff, a seasoned educator at 122nd Street Elementary in Los Angeles Unified.
Krystle Goff

Transitioning from a special education paraeducator to a credentialed teacher, Krystle Goff reflects on the persistent need to validate her skills daily, even after years in the profession. Goff observes a heightened expectation for perfection among Black educators, both self-imposed and externally reinforced.

Goff’s participation in the Principal Leadership Institute at UCLA exposed her to systemic challenges within education, fueling her aspiration to enact positive change as a school leader.

As a coordinator focused on English learner re-designation, Goff emphasizes the necessity of empowering educators to address community needs effectively, fostering a supportive and inclusive school environment.

Preston Jackson’s Perspective

P.E. teacher Preston Jackson at California Middle School, Sacramento City Unified.

Preston Jackson underscores the unique challenges faced by Black educators, citing the lack of mentorship and shared experiences on predominantly non-Black teaching sites. Acknowledging the scarcity of Black mentors during his tenure, Jackson emphasizes the pivotal role mentorship plays in navigating professional hurdles effectively.

The disparities in expectations and opportunities for Black students highlighted by Jackson underscore systemic biases that perpetuate inequality within educational settings.

Empowering Black educators and students alike through inclusive policies and mentorship programs can drive significant improvements in academic outcomes and retention rates.

Alicia Simba’s Experience

Alicia Simba, a dedicated transitional kindergarten teacher at Prescott Elementary School.

Alicia Simba’s deliberate choice to work within a supportive community of Black educators in Oakland Unified underscores the importance of representation and solidarity in fostering a thriving teaching environment.

Reflecting on disparities in resources and opportunities, Simba advocates for increased mentorship, equitable compensation, and training to address systemic barriers hindering Black educators’ progression.

Simba’s journey exemplifies the impact of holistic support structures in bolstering educators’ resilience and commitment amidst multifaceted challenges.

Insights from Brooke Sims

Brooke Sims, dedicated first-grade teacher in Stockton.

Brooke Sims’ enduring passion for education, influenced by her family’s teaching legacy, exemplifies the profound impact of representation and mentorship in shaping educational aspirations.

Championing equitable treatment and opportunities for Black students and educators alike, Sims confronts systemic biases and advocates for inclusive practices that uplift marginalized voices.

Sims’ unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment underscores the transformative influence of dedicated educators in shaping students’ academic journeys.

Petrina Miller’s Insights

Petrina Miller, a dedicated educator at 116th Street School, Los Angeles.

Petrina Miller’s reflections on the evolving educational landscape underscore the vital role of support, recognition, and financial stability in retaining Black educators amidst systemic challenges.

Advocating for equitable compensation, enhanced support systems, and inclusive policies, Miller emphasizes the imperative of valuing educators’ contributions and fostering a conducive teaching environment.

Emphasizing the need for reciprocal respect and support within educational institutions, Miller highlights the essential components for nurturing a diverse and empowered cadre of educators.

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