On the heels of Black History Month, I’ve come across many articles recently with a common theme: A struggle to retain Black teachers, and a greater need for them than ever.
As a former Black teacher in the public school system, I understand and relate to many of the struggles and frustrations many teachers, school counselors, psychologists, and other school professionals are experiencing. These are pitfalls of not just professionals of color, but from all backgrounds. However, with statistics such as, “Slightly more than 20% of public school teachers in the U.S. identify as people of color, compared with more than half of students.” (Sarah Carr/The Hechinger Report), we need to look at the effects of Black students being taught by adults who do not look like them.
Diversity within these school professions are of great importance, especially during this time. The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced a rise in the Black suicide rates and mental health problems due to more COVID-19 related deaths in the Black community, the 2020 protests and riots, and even bigger academic gaps due to learning loss.
It is important for students to feel that they can relate and open up to teachers, school counselors and other adults in their school environment, and that is why diversity and retention in these roles are vital. So what can we do to help retain diversity? I think more conversations, support, and community within these roles is a good start. That is why I love working for a company that prioritizes mental health, which I did not feel I received from working in the school system. Making mental health a priority for not only students, but everyone who works in the school districts is essential for keeping us there.