Black teachers have reportedly been quitting their jobs at a rapid rate.
According to RAND Corporation’s 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey, its researchers discovered that approximately half of Black teachers reported that they were “likely” to leave their positions by the end of the school year. This number was reportedly higher than other races of teachers.
“Teachers need to be well. Teachers need to be whole. Teachers need to be healthy for themselves and the students they teach. Everything that was going on during the pandemic, and is still going on, raised the issue to a more urgent level than perhaps it seemed to be before,” Elizabeth Steiner, a policy researcher at RAND and an author of the 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey, told the Amsterdam News.
Minority children proved to be more academically successful when they had a Black principal. Black students who learned from a Black teacher in elementary school were 13% more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college. The likelihood would even double to 32% if those same children had at least two Black teachers instead of just one.
A dwindling number of Black teachers would impact Black students negatively.
“The Black kids won’t have any representation except for the few of us who grin and bear it and take whatever comes their way,” said Monise Seward, a junior high school math teacher in Indianapolis.
There are many factors contributing to the exodus of Black teachers. These factors include being paid less than their white peers, workplace discrimination and micro-aggressions, feelings of isolation, and being given the hefty responsibility of representing their race.
These teachers have consistently faced these challenges while being least likely to earn over $15 an hour for their labor and having higher student loan debt than their non-Black colleagues.
“Some of us are going to work and not being viewed as experts in our area because some white people have this view that we don’t know anything,” Seward told Amsterdam. “Despite the number of degrees we may have, despite the number of years of experience we may have, some people will never ever see us as experts in what we do, period.”
On top of that, they, on many occasions, end up spending their hard-earned money on classroom supplies and working off the clock. In addition, public schools have not been providing therapy, as the pandemic has reportedly taken a massive toll on teachers in general, but the Black ones especially.
“By being silent, we’re not doing anything for the kids who are coming after us if we continue to work in these conditions, and we continue to essentially beg people to see us as human beings, to see us as professionals,” Seward said.
She even revealed that she had to cut back on the amount of water she consumed to reduce the number of times she went to the restroom because she couldn’t leave her classroom unattended.
“I’m not judging anybody who’s left,” she said, as she fully acknowledged the difficulty of staying in such a taxing profession as a Black person.
The educator has been speaking to many teachers via her now-private Twitter page about the struggles of their profession.
“People are leaving left and right in the middle of the school year. I saw people post online three weeks ago that they left,” Seward said. “Now, if you leave that close to the end of the school year, you have exceeded your wit’s end.”