Maya Pottiger: Black Teachers Are Fed Up — and They’re Quitting in Droves
Before the pandemic, Black teachers were mostly likely to be viewing the exits from the profession. COVID hasn’t helped. Maya Pottiger at Word In Black has some data and some insights.
In its 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey, RAND Corporation researchers found that about half of Black teachers reported they were “likely” to leave their jobs by the end of the school year, which was higher than other races.
“Teachers need to be well, teachers need to be whole, teachers need to be healthy for themselves and for the students they teach,” says Elizabeth Steiner, a policy researcher at RAND and an author of the survey. “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.”
As with so many aspects of life, Black adults serve multiple roles in schools — and not all of them are visible. Children of color are, widely, more academically successful when they have a Black principal, and that success continues down the ladder. Black students who learned from a Black teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college — 13% more likely if they had one Black teacher, and more than double that at 32% if they had at least two.
So a decline in Black teachers would really have far reaching effects on students.
Overall, the RAND survey found a lot of job-related stress among teachers. The percentage of teachers who reported “frequent job-related stress and symptoms of depression” was much higher than the general adult population. And, the survey found, the main stressors were the mode of instructions and their health. Teachers described experiencing depressive symptoms and burnout.
“Taken together,” the report says, “these results suggest that job-related stress poses immediate and long-term threats to the teacher supply.”