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HBCU-educated teachers mean more to our communities than we realize. Their role in developing Black students is unmeasurable. 

In the U.S., only 7% of teachers are Black, compared with 15% of students. But, Nearly half of the Black teachers in America graduated from an HBCU. 

HBCUs have historically been ground zero for training Black teachers. In 1837, Cheyney was founded by Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphreys and named the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth. The school’s foundational task was to train Black teachers. 

But Cheyney wasn’t the only HBCU developing Black teachers. Helping build up good teachers was important to many Black communities trying to find their way after years of slavery and oppression. 

Although the number of Black teachers is down significantly, HBCUs still play a huge role in developing Black teachers, who still make huge impacts in children’s lives. 

According to a recent study of elementary school students in North Carolina, Black students performed better in math when taught by an HBCU-educated teacher.

The study, which was conducted by Stanford University graduate student Lavar Edmonds, showed that the teacher’s race did not impact student outcomes, but their training did. Both Black and white HBCU-trained teachers were more effective than their non-HBCU-trained counterparts.

“There’s something to be said for the environment that’s cultivated, the way they connect with their students, the inspiration, the vulnerability that they may have with their students,” said Edmonds.

Edmonds also pointed his research toward policymakers to use as a catalyst for change.

“For the policy-minded, this evidence highlights the potential benefits of hiring and retaining more teachers trained at Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Edmonds. “HBCUs are uniquely producing teachers capable of elevating Black academic success. HBCUs are uniquely producing teachers capable of elevating Black academic success. In the face of concerns regarding teacher recruitment and retention and their effect on students, these results speak to a simple, effective, and targeted approach for raising student achievement largely omitted from prior teacher labor market discussions.”

So what makes training at an HBCU so special? 

“Training at HBCUs provides an immersion in Black culture and an understanding that teachers can bring that to classrooms,” Sekou Biddle, a vice president at the United Negro College Fund, told AP. Students learn about “the history of Black excellence in America that I think oftentimes gets missed in a lot of other environments.”


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