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Are black teachers key to helping poor, black students succeed?

Want poor, black children to succeed in school? Give them more black teachers, a S.C. education advocate says, citing a new study.

Having at least one black teacher in an elementary school significantly lowers a black student’s likelihood of dropping out of high school, S.C. Education Oversight Committee director Melanie Barton told state senators Tuesday.

“Let me be real blunt. A new study by Johns Hopkins … found that low-income black students who had at least one black teacher in elementary school had significant gains in opportunity,” she said.

“Having at least one black teacher in (grades) 3-5 reduces the dropout (rate) by 29 percent,” Barton said. “For every low-income black boy, it’s reduced by 39 percent.

“The reason why is … they have a role model.”

Less than 20 percent of South Carolina’s public school teachers are minorities, compared to 40 percent of the state’s students, Barton said.

Barton said recruiting black teachers could help South Carolina improve performance in its poor, rural schools, many of which are majority African American.

Read the full story: TheState.com 

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