Equity & Diversity Report Roundup

Black Principals Could Boost Teacher Diversity

By Denisa R. Superville — June 11, 2019 2 min read
Photo of principal talking with school staff.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School districts struggle to hire staff members who reflect changing student demographics. Could the answer lie in developing a strategy to hire more principals of color?

A working paper by Jason Grissom, an associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, and Brendan Bartanen, a doctoral student at the university, strongly suggests it could.

They found that having a black principal at a school increased the likelihood that newly hired teachers would be black by 5 percentage points to 7 percentage points and that changing from a white principal to a black principal increased the percentage of black teachers by 3 percentage points on average.

Black teachers stayed in their roles longer in schools led by black principals—reducing black-teacher mobility by 2 percent to 5 percent.

Over time, changing a school’s leader from a white to a black principal increased the share of black teachers in a school after five years by 5.3 percentage points in Missouri and 5.2 percentage points in Tennessee, the two states that were the subject of the research. The researchers used educator data from 1999 to 2016 in Missouri and from 2007 to 2017 in Missouri. They also looked at earlier data to analyze tenure and experience.

The increase in the share of black teachers was accomplished through an increase in the hiring and retention of black teachers.

Both black and white principals were more likely to hire teachers who are the same race as they are. That was more evident among teachers who were transferring from one school to another than with novice teachers, the researchers found.

They also found evidence to suggest that having black teachers increased achievement in math for black students. And even in the absence of hiring a black teacher, positive math gains occurred for black students under a black principal.

The paper, “School Principal Race and the Hiring and Retention of Racially Diverse Teachers,” was published this month by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University.

“It does suggest that hiring more black principals could be one way to get to increased diversity of the workforce in a school,” Grissom said.

“Certainly we see that in Missouri and in Tennessee—when black principals come in, the composition changes.”

Although students of color make up the majority of those enrolled in the nation’s public schools, the educator workforce looks very different.

About 80 percent of teachers are white, and only about 20 percent of principals are people of color.

A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2019 edition of Education Week as Black Principals Could Boost Teacher Diversity

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Inclusion & Equity
This Spotlight will help you examine disparities in districts’ top positions, the difference between equity and equality, and more.
Equity & Diversity The Battle to Drop Native American Mascots Goes On, as Some Communities Reinstate Them
The larger trend to remove Native American mascots and logos comes from a national racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd in 2020.
6 min read
A woman plays a drum during a "No Honor in Racism Rally" in front of TCF Bank Stadium before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 18, 2015, in Minneapolis. The battle to change the use of Native Americans in logos, team names and fan-driven behavior has often been in the bright spotlight due to major sports teams. Protests are being planned at the Super Bowl once more in response to the Kansas City Chiefs.
A woman plays a drum during a "No Honor in Racism Rally" in front of TCF Bank Stadium before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 18, 2015, in Minneapolis. The battle to change the use of Native Americans in logos, team names and fan-driven behavior has often been in the bright spotlight due to major sports teams. Protests are being planned at the Super Bowl once more in response to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alex Brandon/AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion You Should Be Teaching Black Historical Contention
How to responsibly teach this critical component of Black history instruction —and why you should.
Brittany L. Jones
4 min read
A student raises their hand to ask a question before a group of assorted historical figures.
Camilla Sucre for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion 2 Billion People Celebrate Lunar New Year. Your Class Can, Too
Many school districts are putting the upcoming holiday on their calendars. Guests, music, food, and red envelopes can help bring the festival alive.
Sarah Elia
4 min read
 Illustration depicting a vibrantly colored dragon winding through traditions practiced during the lunar new year.
Changyu Zou for Education Week