Why white students need black teachers — by a white teacher
One of the key arguments often given for why it is important to increase the diverse of America’s teaching force is that students of color do better academically when they have teachers of color. A 2010 study titled “Diversifying the Teaching Force: An Examination of Major Arguments” found that “teachers of color use their insider knowledge about the language,culture, and life experiences of students of color to improve their academic outcomes and school experiences.”
In this post, a white teacher explains why it is also important for white students to be taught by people of color. She is Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, the 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. Lamb-Sinclair is returning to full-time classroom teaching this fall after a sabbatical working with the Kentucky Department of Education. She teaches high school English and creative writing, and authors the www.beautifuljunkyard.com website. She is also the founder and chief executive officer of Curio Learning, an educational technology company launching a platform for teacher professional development. (Twitter handle: @AshleyLambS)
Robert Trumbo was the first person to ever tell me I was going to be a teacher. He didn’t just suggest it, he almost commanded it, or at the very least prophesized it. I sat in his AVID class (a class to help students gain skills for college readiness) helping a fellow student with his essay, and Mr. Trumbo said to me, “You’re a teacher, Ashley Lamb.”
I believed him, even though I openly disagreed at the time, mostly because Mr. Trumbo was one of my most respected teachers and his presence in my life was almost mythology. He had taught my mother and aunts and was one of their favorite teachers too. If Mr. Trumbo told you something, you’d better take heed.
He demanded that all of his students memorize their Social Security numbers because “trust me,” he’d say, “you’re gonna need it.” He explained to us the importance of maintaining “good credit,” something I remembered ashamedly when I started piling on my own credit card debt in college. Mr. Trumbo would become unreasonably furious when someone passed gas in his classroom, storming around spraying Lysol and doing his best not to curse, much to our amusement.