Category Archives: Diversity Resources

Articles and research on diversity in education

Diversity Has an Impact at Bridgeport Academy

Several years ago, the leadership of New Beginnings Family Academy placed a high priority on building a diverse staff.

The initiative has borne fruit as 53 percent of those who work directly with students are persons of color. This includes teachers, full-time teaching assistants, nurses and social workers.

What’s more, 57 percent of the school’s leaders are persons of color, including the director and the principals of the elementary and middle schools.

The charter school in Bridgeport serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students. Ninety-five percent of the students are children of color, and most come from low-income families.

Ronelle Swagerty, director and CEO

“We set out to hire qualified adults who look like the children we serve and whose cultural competency ensures deep, meaningful relationships,” says Ronelle Swagerty, director and CEO.

Emotionally Responsive Model

“Our educational model emphasizes emotional responsiveness, and it helps to have those cultural competencies in the classroom so children feel connected,” she says. “Relationships are key. I’m not saying relationships can’t be developed by others, but it’s nice for children to see so many adults in school who look like them.”

How did the leadership achieve such a diverse staff? They took a multi-layered approach that included word-of-mouth and advertising. The Human Resources office has a full-time manager and a part-time recruiter who attend every minority-teacher recruitment fair in the state and some beyond the state.

“Research has shown that children fare far better in an environment with adults who look like them,” Ms. Swagerty says. And teachers of color have an impact on families as well. Some members of the staff are immigrants who can communicate with parents in their own languages.

Diversity of Gender and Ethnicity

Valore Turner, principal of the middle school, says that diversity of gender is just as important as diversity of ethnicity. Currently, the middle-school teaching staff is 50 percent male and female. Before the push for diversity, there were only a few male teachers on the entire staff from Pre-K through eighth grade.

Valore Turner, middle school principal

“It’s important to have male teachers,” she says. “It’s beautiful to see my boys fall in love with reading for the first time simply because their language arts teacher is a man who loves and advocates for pleasure reading.

“Diversity has an impact not only on academics, but also on children’s emotional development,” Ms. Turner says.

“A boys group, led by a male social worker, met once a week last year,” she says. “This group came about after it was observed that the boys had burning questions and were freely spreading incorrect information among one another. Under the guidance of a licensed social worker, a boys’ group was created to help prevent the spread of misinformation. Anonymously, male students put their questions into a jar and the social worker addressed them during the weekly meetings.”

Says Ms. Turner, “It’s important for children to have positive role models of all races and sexes, and we want to ensure that faculty fulfills this need.”


Future Teachers Mistake Black Students as ‘Angry’ More Than White Students, Study Shows

A new study finds that prospective teachers, most of whom are white, are more likely to identify Black children than white children as angry, even when they’re not.

Madeline Will reported on the study in the July 8 issue of Education Week.

The study examines teacher-candidates’ “racialized anger bias”—a term coined by the researchers that means seeing anger when none exists. One of the researchers, Amy Halberstadt, had previously done a study that looked at how teacher-candidates perceived the facial expressions of Black adults.

“In that first study, we discovered what Black people already know largely—that people perceive Black adults as angry even when they’re not,” said Halberstadt, who is a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “[In this new study], we found that even older elementary school children are also experiencing racialized anger bias. With prospective teachers who care deeply for children, this is still happening.”

Future Teachers Tested

In this study, researchers studied 178 prospective teachers who were enrolled in education programs at three southeastern universities. Most of the future teachers in the study were white women, which is in line with the national teaching force.

Both white candidates and candidates of color were equally likely to misidentify Black children as angry, Halberstadt said.

Participants were shown 72 short video clips of child actors’ facial expressions and were asked to identify the emotion being displayed. The clips were equally divided between Black and white children and between boys and girls. The children in the clips were between the ages of 9 and 13.

Racialized Anger Bias

Researchers recorded the number of errors that participants made, especially seeing anger when there was none. The study notes that the findings were “clear and robust”: Prospective teachers were 1.36 times more likely to exhibit racialized anger bias against Black children than against white children and incorrectly view the Black child as angry.

Future teachers were 1.74 times more likely to incorrectly identify a Black girl’s facial expression as angry than a white girl’s. Participants were 1.16 times more likely to mistake a Black boy’s expression as angry than a white boy’s.

Black Boys More Likely Perceived as Angry

Overall, Black boys were the most likely to be incorrectly assumed to be angry by future teachers, Halberstadt said. White girls were the least likely. Past research has found that adults view Black girls, aged 5 to 14, as less innocent and more adult-like than white girls.

Researchers said they would expect to see even higher levels of anger bias in the actual classroom, when teachers have to make split-second judgments of the situation.

Schools Need More Diverse Teachers, Better Training

Editor’s Note: Anti-racist education was the topic of a recent NPR broadcast. Following is a report about the broadcast from the NPR website as well as a partial transcript of the broadcast interview.

In the wake of ongoing protests for racial justice, young people in America are demanding change from their schools.

Petitions are circulating all over the country in support of creating anti-racist education. One petition, written by alumni of Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Ariz., calls on the district to “review and advance its curriculum, goals, and objectives as they related to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“Education is the most valuable tool to dismantle racism and create a more equitable society,” the petition reads.

Sumaiya DeLane, along with Khadijah Adamu and Samiza Palmer, started a petition in Montgomery County, Md., where they went to school.

“These are longstanding issues that need urgent solutions,” DeLane says. “It needs to be total transformation versus reform.”

Palmer says she doesn’t think there can be “a truly anti-racist curriculum unless the teachers have gone through that same sort of training themselves.”

Travis Bristol, an assistant professor of education at the University of California at Berkeley, agrees. He says that for students to receive an anti-racist education, teachers need better training and students need more diverse teachers.

All of this is in service to what he calls “the American project” of, in part, forming a more perfect union.

“I believe that to begin the work of forming a more perfect union requires us to enact anti-racist teaching, but it also requires us to prepare teachers to think about how to design anti-racist teaching,” says Bristol, who is also a former New York City teacher. “And that is what gives me hope.”

Here are excerpts from his interview on All Things Considered.

When we say anti-racist education, or anti-racist teaching, what does that mean to you?

So for me, anti-racist teaching means a fundamental disruption of the way in which teaching and learning happens in our schools today: It centers whiteness and white people. And so we have to start with the preparation of teachers.

You looked closely at how diverse teachers can reshape education and how, in particular, Black teachers can play a role. Why is having Black teachers inside classrooms important — not just for Black students to get a quality education, but for all children to get a quality education?

There is convincing evidence that Black children perform better in school that they are able to persist through high school that they are less likely to get suspended and expelled if they have a Black teacher compared to a white teacher. So there’s clear evidence that for Black students there is this added value for Black teachers. There is a growing body of evidence that for white students, that there is a preference for having a teacher of color when compared to a white teacher.

But at the same time, I understand that you found school systems have a really tough time retaining African American teachers. Why?

In my own research, I have found that school districts have done a remarkable job of recruiting Black teachers. But they have, in many ways, placed at the feet of Black teachers the undue expectation that they can somehow fundamentally address 400 years of oppression.

School districts concentrate Black teachers in the most challenging schools, without giving those Black teachers the necessary resources to address the 400 years of marginalization and subjugation.

And so because Black teachers are placed in the most challenging schools without the necessary resources to teach Black children, Black teachers are leaving their schools, not their students. They’re leaving the poor working conditions, the conditions that do not give them the tools, the resources, the ongoing training to teach Black children.

And so out of frustration, while doing good work, while raising test scores, while allowing Black children to persist, they also leave because they recognize, at the end of the day, that they do not have the tools and resources to do the work of teaching.

Please visit to listen to the full interview.
Jonaki Mehta, Elena Burnett and Justine Kenin produced and edited the audio version of this story.