California School News — November 2017
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New CSBA Governance Brief Explores African- American Teacher Retention

CSBA recently published a new governance brief examining the impact that African-American teachers have on student outcomes, what factors contribute to their attrition and retention, and what board members can do to support these teachers. California School News sat down with Dr. Malika Hollinside, author of the brief, to gain insights into this important issue.

What led you to write this brief?

As a high school teacher in Sacramento for over 13 years, I have observed discrepancies in student diversity when compared with teacher diversity. A particular concern for the decreasing number of African- American educators in California’s teaching force led to my dissertation research on black teacher retention. The findings identified several important factors impacting the retention of African-American teachers in California. Specific recommendations and strategies for school boards, school districts and school administrations can help schools support and retain their critical African-American teacher population.

What impact do African-American teachers have on students?

African-American teachers represent a vital component of the American teaching force. They interact with students in powerful and unique ways that enhance school experiences as well as academic outcomes. Current research shows that black teachers play a particularly important role for black students, positively influencing their success rates and their interest in higher education. They inspire black students and serve as role models, motivators and extended family. The presence of African-American educators in our schools demonstrates a reflection of California’s rich cultural demographics and allows all students to experience a well-rounded, diverse teaching population.

According to research, why do African-American teachers decide to leave the classroom?

Interviews and surveys of African-American teachers throughout California point to various issues that influence their desire to remain in or leave the classroom. The most powerful factors impacting black teacher retention have to do with the organizational culture of schools. There is a correlation between African-American teacher job satisfaction and the way they feel about their schools’ administration characteristics, their levels of inclusion and autonomy, schools’ cultural responsiveness and their opportunities for career advancement. Too often, black teachers express that they encounter a lack of support, cultural incongruities, racism and stagnant upward mobility in California’s schools.

What are some ways that administrators can encourage African-American teachers to remain in the classroom?

School administrators have the strongest potential to positively impact school workplace conditions and increase the retention rates of African-American teachers. They can support black teachers by providing induction programs that assist them, especially through their early years, in the profession. By upholding high standards and expectations of cultural competency for students and faculty, administrators can show black teachers that they are aware of and sensitive to their experiences of race and discrimination. School administrators can ensure that African-American teachers are included in important discussions and decision-making situations. Administrators can also create career pathways for black teachers that allow for professional growth and salary increase.

What actions can school board members take to support African-American teacher retention?

School board members must also take action in order to retain California’s black teachers. It is critical that school boards evaluate teacher demographics on state, district and school levels to assess the annual rates of African-American teacher retention and attrition. An analysis of state and district teacher turnover costs should be conducted to quantify the economic impact of black teacher attrition. School boards should carefully examine data on California’s student and teacher diversity gap to identify discrepancies between the two. Boards can also extend efforts to increase the diversity of the preservice teaching pool by recruiting African-American teachers to California’s credentialing programs.

Read the entire brief at