One of the most powerful supports a school can give a student of color is a teacher of color. With just one teacher of the same race, a non-white student is more likely to perform better on standardized tests, attend school more regularly, and be suspended less frequently.
But that relationship is hard to come by. Even though people of color make up more than 50 percent of public school students in the United States, they make up fewer than 20 percent of the teachers, and they leave the teaching profession at higher rates than white colleagues.
Policymakers have noted multiple reasons for this, including the relative low pay of teaching, the lack of a robust pathway into teaching for young people of color, and a dearth of supportive school leaders. One unexplored avenue, though, has been the experiences of teachers of color in their schools — how they perceive their impact, and how they believe colleagues perceive them.