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The Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) is one of many organizations locally, statewide and nationally looking for ways to build a better narrative in Black education

Improving the quality of education for Black students is more important than ever. Whitewashed curricula, critical race theory and the banning of book by Black authors are just a few issues discussed on a national scale that HAUL is addressing through its virtual “A Better Black Education” conversation.

The discussion focused on key challenges and strategies to rebuild the educational experience for Black teachers and students.

Through a 2019 report published by the Education Trust and Teach PLUS, teachers of color listed five challenges in their profession and workforce.

Antagonistic work environment & culture

Teachers often feel invisible or unwelcome. A climate where a teachers see no representation in leadership, or a lack of investments in students of color from administration.

Unfairly compensated & often unrecognized

In addition to multiple roles educators juggle outside of teaching, many educators are being asked to take on more responsibly because they often share similar experiences and backgrounds with Black students.

Lack of autonomy & agency

Nationwide the public education system, with its standards, expectations and culture, is largely designed by white middle-class educators. Teachers often feel stuck adapting within a system that seems unwilling to change to meet the students where they are.

Unfavorable working conditions

There aren’t enough resources to mentor young teachers. They also lack the structural support they need to grow in the career field. They often take on additional responsibilities without having the means to get the job done properly.

High cost of being a teacher of color

The profession comes with financial burdens white teachers may not experience. Many teachers of color come from families that don’t have the financial means to supplement the lack of pay from teaching.

BLACK EDUCATION FACTS Source: The New Teacher Project

Black students assigned to at least one Black teacher in elementary school are 13% more likely to graduate and 19% more likely to enroll in college than peers not assigned.

66% of teachers who share the same race/ethnicity tend to have higher expectations of their students compared to 35% of those who do not.

There were a few key strategies and recommendations the district and state should consider to solving such problems.

  1. Set clear goals and accountability.
  2. Provide funding and guidance for pre-programs to set diversity goals.
  3. Invest in HBCUs and MSIs that prepare teachers of color.
  4. Invest in and provide guidance on cultural competence and anti-bias training for teachers and school staff.

What can schools and community members do?

  1. Promote more parental involvement in the academic success of students.
  2. Advocate for policy change for educational equity and teacher diversity.
  3. Facilitate community listening events with stakeholders and decision-makers.
  4. Provide Black teachers with targeted training and opportunities.
  5. Promote curriculum with a multicultural perspective on student learning, teacher practices, school culture and leadership

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...