Guest Blogger – Sophia Howard
Sophia Howard is a graduate student and research assistant at Virginia State University. She will be graduating in May with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. She graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a B.A. in Psychology and English. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in School Psychology and become a licensed psychologist to positively impact the lives of socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnic minority children and adolescents.
The Lack of Ethnically Diverse Teachers in an Ethnically Diverse America
In America, most ethnic minority children are taught by a teacher that is racially and culturally different from them. The majority of teachers in America are Caucasian females. This is problematic, as studies have shown that Caucasian teachers consistently have more conflict with ethnic minority students, particularly African American males.
The higher rates of conflictual relationships between Caucasian teachers and ethnic minority students has academic and interpersonal consequences. Students who have conflictual relationships with teachers are more likely to have conflictual relationships with future teachers. Additionally, preschoolers with conflictual relationships with their teachers with are more likely to have slower literacy gains and negative views of academic self-competence.
In some cases, negative relationships and interactions between Caucasian teachers and ethnic minority students are attributed to implicit racial biases and attitudes teachers may possess. Research has shown that in some instances, Caucasian teachers interact differently with Caucasian students than ethnic minority students. Furthermore, Caucasian teachers perceive relationships with their African American students to be the most conflictual compared to students of other ethnicities, suggesting that race impacts how the teacher forms and perceives the relationship quality.
Studies have conversely shown African American teachers have more positive relationships and higher expectations of African American students compared to Caucasian teachers. Additionally, an African American preschooler is more likely to demonstrate better adjustment in a classroom with an African American teacher.
What Can We Do?
America is diverse in every way. It is necessary for the classrooms in America to mirror the melting pot America truly is. Ethnic minority teachers are needed in these ethnically diverse classrooms of students. The implicit biases about race some teachers possess are detrimental to ethnic minority childrens’ academic achievement and social-emotional development. It’s time a shift is made and we encourage diversity in these diverse classrooms.