While the racial and ethnic diversity of America’s teachers increased in recent decades, Black men remain among the most underrepresented demographics in teaching compared to their percentage of the general population — and the student population.
Black women, meanwhile, made up 4.8% of all public school teachers and 6.5% of the general population. Together, Black men and women comprise 6.1% of all public school teachers and 12.6% of the US population.
How has the number of Black male teachers changed in recent years?
The proportion of public school teachers who are Black men has been declining, from 6.5% in the 2017-2018 school year to 1.3% in 2020-2021. Overall, the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic teachers declined from 7% to 6% from 2011 to 2021.
What are the race and gender demographics of the teaching profession?
Ignoring sex, an even larger share of teachers are white. In 2020–2021, 79.9% of public school teachers were white, 9.4% were Hispanic, 6.1% were Black, 2.4% were Asian, and 1.6% were multiracial. Less than one-half of 1% were American Indian/Alaska Natives or Pacific Islanders.
Where do Black male teachers work?
Cities and southern states have the biggest proportion of Black male teachers. About two-thirds of all Black teachers (including Hispanic) in the US teach in the South, according to NCES.
In the 2017–2018 school year, about 5% of Louisiana's teachers were non-Hispanic Black men — the largest share among all states with data reported in that year’s survey. Next was Virginia and Georgia, where 4% of teachers were Black men.
Seven states reported that 0% of their male teachers were Black: Alaska, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. NCES notes that the reporting standards for a further 20 states (plus Washington, DC) were not met, making it impossible to know what percentage of their teachers are Black men.
Most Black teachers — 51% — teach in cities, and 85% of Black teachers work in schools where at least half of the student population is non-white.
There were approximately 7.2 million Black students in US public schools during the 2020–2021 school year, according to NCES. Black students accounted for 15% of all public school students. The rest of the student body was 46% white, 28% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 4% multiracial, and 1% American Indian or Alaska Native.
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How has that number changed in recent years?
The percentage of public school students who are Black in the US has declined slightly in recent years, from 16% in the autumn of 2010 to 15% in 2021. Over the same period, the proportion of white students shrank from 52% to 45%, while the share of Hispanic students increased from 23% to 28%. The share of Asian students held steady at 5%, and the share of multiracial students grew from 2% to 5%.
Why teacher demographics matter to students’ educational outcomes
Black students who had a Black teacher for one year before fourth grade achieved higher math and reading scores than Black students taught only by white teachers, according to the Department of Education. Black students who had a Black teacher in at least one early grade were 5 percentage points more likely to graduate high school, and 4 points more likely to go to college.
“[I]t is possible that students may receive more culturally relevant instruction and have more positive perceptions of their teachers when taught by teachers of the same race or ethnicity, particularly if they are of the same gender,” the Department of Education reports.