Teachers of color have more impact on students than white teachers

According to a new study, all children benefit from having teachers of color, and not just African-American students.

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, a sociologist at New York University believes it’s true and he just published a paper with colleague Peter Halpin to prove his point.

Cherng and Halpin examined students of all races—white, black, Latino, and Asian—and found that they had a more advantageous relationship with teachers of colors. That’s likely because teachers of color humanize and draw on their own experiences when it comes to race and gender, Cherng said.

As part of a study sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cherng and Halpin analyzed data from the Measure of Effective Teaching study. They reached out to 1,700 students and had them answer surveys about a variety of aspects dealing with their interactions with teachers and delve into their personal take on their experiences.

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Cherng is an Asian-American teacher and he even found in his own experience that Black students viewed him favorably. He was able to exchange dialogue with his African American students and together they examined their own commonalities about prejudices and because of that, they could connect.

Making an Impact

What Cherng and Halpin found from the 30-question survey was that all the students, even white students, had significantly more favorable perceptions of Latino versus white teachers across the board. They also had favorable perceptions of black teachers versus white teachers on at least two or three of seven categories in the survey.

Cherng, however was surprised at the results, thinking that whites would be viewed more favorable because of the “racial hierarchy” of whites and how they are viewed in the world as the dominant race.

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“We’re not done,” investigating this finding, Cherng says.

Cherng is now working on a series of studies that will explore a teacher’s multicultural beliefs and awareness before they enter the classroom and their effectiveness in the classroom.