We need more black teachers in the classroom

As high school teachers, we’ve often seen black teenagers – mostly boys – who were distracted by their lessons, considered incapable of high academic achievement, leaned towards remedial classes or special education, and encouraged them to be happy after graduation.

We didn’t have magical powers, but we could clearly see the potential of these young people being ruined and wondering why others couldn’t.

Sadly, our experience has been and continues to be replicated throughout the country, as black youth are overwhelmed by academic bias: recognizing teachers’ disabilities and overcoming the underlying (and sometimes obvious) prejudices they have about black students. This bias plays a key role in keeping black students away from gifted programs and advanced classes that give them the opportunity to earn free college credit and increase their chances of going to college. In fact, black students make up 15 percent of high school students nationwide, compared to only 9 percent of students enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement (AP) course.

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