Barriers facing teachers of color (part 2)



While the Center for American Progress  report outlined the barriers facing educators of color in the public school system, it also provided recommendations to alleviate these obstacles both on a federal and state level.

Federal government recommendations:

  • Create a national teaching corp that rivals those that current exists in the private sector.
  • Fund teaching preparedness programs at minority-serving institutions.
  • Implement incentives for talented students of color going into careers in education.

State government recommendations:

  • Provide scholarships to future teachers that are connected with teacher training programs that currently exist.
  • Adjust compensation packages for talented teachers of color to match those of other comparable professions.
  • Back state and local initiatives that aim to recruit more educators of color.

Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health


Barriers facing teachers of color (part 1)

A new report by the Center for ATeachers of colormerican Progress has shed more light on the barriers and difficulties that inhibit diversification of teachers in the US education sector. It is widely known that the teaching force in the US is mostly comprised of caucasian teachers. However,  the general US population continues to diversify. This report outlines how the current system is failing students of color and how that inadvertently shrinks the pool of future minority teachers. Various barriers exists starting from elementary level education to retention of teachers of color. All of these  contribute to low representation on in the teaching workforce. Some of data presented in the paper include:

  • African American students are less likely to graduate from high school and college, which serves as a major barrier to an eventual career as an educator.
  • The pass rate of Praxis I and II, major teaching certification examinations , are twice as high in Whites compared to African Americans.
  • Teachers of color are more likely to leave the teaching profession, with the major reason being  lack of support.

Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health


Divided Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action


Divided Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action: In Plain English.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to public universities.  Justice Kennedy stressed the decision was not based on the constitutionality of having a race-conscious admission process, but instead was centered around whether voters can choose to prohibit such policies.  “The Court can’t decide that an issue like affirmative action is too hard or too ‘delicate’ for voters to take on; doing so would be both an ‘unprecedented restriction’ on the voters’ ability to exercise their joint right and demeaning to the democratic process.”

Justice Sotomayor stated in her dissent to the courtroom, “…without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups. For that reason our constitution places limits on what a majority of the people may do…For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

Please click here for more information on the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.


Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center




Addressing STEM Disparities for the Future

Although the field of technology continues to grow, there is a shortage of qualified technology professionals.  In the publication Stem Urgency, researchers Joseph S. Miller and Dr. John H. Horrigan recommend an improvement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs in order to address this shortage and to address the disparity in minority representation in these fields, which should be a national priority.


Sources: Economics and Statistics Administration, Good Jobs Now and for the Future, 1 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2011); Bureau of Labor Statistics, Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations: a visual essay (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 2011).


  • Only 25% of Science and Engineering degree holders and 28% of people working in Science and Engineering careers are non-white
  • Raw SAT overall scores for Black and Hispanic students are on average 200 to 300 points lower than white students
  • In 21 of the 25 states with the largest Black populations, annual spending per pupil is less than Massachusetts, which is the state with the highest education quality in the United States

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School


New study sheds light on quality of life of African Americans


A recent research project, carried out by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in conjunction with Ebony magazine, has shed some light on the quality of life for African Americans. The survey included 1,005 African Americans from across the country and probed a myriad of issues including access to healthcare, home ownership, income inequalities, and education.

A vast majority (80%) of respondents reported being satisfied with their overall daily life. Ratings of satisfaction varied by geographical location, with satisfaction levels highest in the west (90% of participants were very satisfied) and lowest in the east (32% of participants were very satisfied). When probed about the state of their finances within the past five years, there were mixed responses from participants. About half (47%) reported that their finances had gotten “somewhat better” while 22% said it had gotten “somewhat worse”

In regards to home ownership, 49% of participants were renters at their current residence and 48% owned the homes that they were currently residing. Home ownership varied across age groups with older respondents reporting owning homes at higher rates compared to younger respondents.  The topic of income inequality was of major concern to most participants. Over half (58%) expressed that they were “very concerned” about the issue of income inequality and this concern varied by geographical location, with participants in the Northeast showing the most concern (75% reported being “very concerned”).

Interestingly, 79% of respondents reported having some form of health care coverage. This number is significant due to the issues surrounding health disparities and limited access to healthcare in the African American community. There were differences in access to healthcare across groups, with higher income and educated individuals reporting more recent routine visits to the hospital.


Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 

PLUS Problems for HBCUs

Dianne Hayes’ article “Obama Administration Plans Changes to Parent PLUS Loans” explains that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have seen a 19% drop in funding due to student loan denials as a result of the U.S. Department of Education’s change in the eligibility requirements for Parent PLUS loans.  Many parents who previously used the PLUS loans were denied and could not cover the cost of their children attending college according to Allie Bidwell’s US News and World Report article.  Bidwell explains that proponents of the change indicate that new eligibility requirements address the issue of families borrowing more than they can afford to repay because previously there was no cap in the amount of the PLUS loans that could be taken out.  The same article notes that opponents of the change say that many students from low-income families will no longer be able to afford the cost of college.

Hayes explains that civic organizations including the Congressional Black Caucus, NAFEO, UNCF, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, as well as parents and students put pressure on the U.S. Department of Education to address the drastic change in PLUS loan eligibility.  In response, the U.S. Department now qualifies families with recent but small-scale debt for PLUS loans by appeal.

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) says more changes need to be made.  The UNCF’s report “An Urgent Crisis Facing Students at the Nation’s HBCUs” suggests the U. S. Department of Education take following remedial steps:

  • Immediately restore old eligibility criteria & grandfather in students who previously received Parent PLUS loans
  • In the short term, provide alternative means by which families can pay for college & meet with HBCU presidents to devise a better plan
  • In the long term: “implement statutory changes to improve the PLUS Loan program”

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School

A Path for All: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap

Many Americans identify education as a path toward success.  The racial achievement gap in American schools, however, stands in the way of a significant number of minority children’s realization of a successful future.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book extrapolates a change in the racial demographics of children over the next 15 years – as the percentages of minority groups increase, the foundation foresees the number of white children decreasing.  Therefore, addressing the racial achievement gap will become increasingly more necessary as time progresses.

For that reason, The Annie E. Casey Foundation compiles the Race for Results Index, which collects a range of data for various groups of people of color.  The results from the Index shows some of the barriers facing minority children are under-resourced and unsafe schools, as well as poverty-stricken and violent communities.

The PBS documentary “180 Days” further demonstrates the impact of a student’s circumstances on the student’s achievement. Through a series of episodes following students and families of an inner-city high school, the documentary examines the specific struggles that arise when school and community resources are few.

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School