Supporting our Teachers of Color

Recently in the Hechinger Report, former Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. and Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute wrote an op-ed recommending several actions that can be taken at the school, district, state and college levels to better support teachers of color. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

Qualitative research from The Education Trust highlights that many black and Latino educators feel undervalued and unappreciated in their profession.

For example, many black educators feel that their voices are not heard and that they have to “tone down” their personalities to teach. Instead of being offered opportunities to teach diverse students and college-level courses or take on leadership roles within their schools, many black teachers feel restricted to teaching only black students and find that they are expected to act as their schools’ disciplinarians.

For Latino educators, The Education Trust’s research shows that these teachers believe they can be perceived as aggressive when incorporating Hispanic culture into the classroom, especially when advocating for Latino students and families. And similar to black educators, Latino teachers feel that they are expected to take on additional roles, often as their school’s language translators for students’ families.


Federal and state governments can offer service scholarships and forgivable loans to teacher-candidates of color to support their preparation, repaid with several years of service in public schools. College students of color carry higher education debt than white students, and are particularly responsive to incentives that make it possible for them to enter and remain in fields they care about, like teaching.

Districts can hire earlier in the year so that they are more assured of the largest possible pool of diverse teaching talent. It’s also critical at the district and school levels to offer comprehensive induction and ongoing support to teachers of color during their initial years in the classroom — which includes professional development, mentoring by veteran teachers, and continual coaching and feedback.

Local universities — especially minority-serving institutions — can partner with districts to coordinate student-teaching placements for diverse, novice educators and to vet potential candidates for hiring before they graduate. Partnerships also can include high-quality teacher residencies, in which participants in teacher preparation programs engage in intensive training in public schools, akin to clinical residencies for medical professionals.

States can target resources to the districts and schools struggling the most with teacher diversity, and share best practices from those places that are finding success with strategies to diversify the educator workforce. States also can create robust data systems that track and report the racial makeup of teacher preparation programs and those who complete them, which could give rise to incentives for these programs to find innovative ways to recruit more candidates of color.

Teachers of color can — and should — be offered seats at the table when decisions are made that affect the daily work they do with students in the classroom. Principals also need ongoing professional learning so they can further develop the skills to support diverse teachers in their schools.

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