Ohio College Programs Seek to Boost Black Teacher Workforce

By NADIA RAMLAGAN Public News Service

Ohio’s historically Black colleges and universities are working to produce a pipeline of diverse teachers.

Black students make up nearly 17% of Ohio’s student population, but fewer than 1 in 10 teachers in the state is a Black man, according to the Brothers Rise initiative.

Lillian Drakeford, interim dean of the College of Education at Central State University, said dropout rates and academic achievement gaps tend to be lower in schools where students see and have teachers who look like themselves.

“The data shows us that graduation rates, student-teacher rapport, strategic plan success, parental engagement, social/emotional wellness and cultural literacy are higher in learning environments with diverse teachers,” Drakeford said.

According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, having just two Black teachers by the time a child is 8 years old increases a Black student’s chance of attending college by more than 30%.

In Ohio, the number of newly credentialed teachers and attrition rates for all educators dropped between 2021 and 2022, leaving counties with historically high student-to-teacher ratios.

Drakeford said historically Black college and university education programs can help fill the workforce gap while providing opportunities for students to graduate and immediately start working in schools.

“The idea is that the district benefits because we help train students to be viable employees in that district, and we gain because the district sends students to us for their undergraduate education,” Drakeford said.

She added Central State’s Educator Preparation Program is aimed at helping students become qualified teachers, even long before they step onto a college campus. Through partnerships across the state, the program’s staff speaks to students as early as middle school about the education field and the overall importance of good teachers to society.

Pictured at top: Ohio’s public schools serve 1.6 million students of all races, backgrounds, genders and abilities, but diversity is not reflected in the state’s education workforce, according to the Ohio Education Association. (Adobe Stock)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.