Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity

Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity

While research shows that a diverse teacher workforce benefits all children — especially children of color — disparities in student loan debt for educators of color may be leading to higher teacher turnover rates, undermining efforts to diversify the workforce, a report from the Center for American Progress finds. The report, Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity, found that African-American and Latinx educators are more likely than their white peers to take out federal loans to finance their education (91 percent and 82 percent vs. 76 percent); that in 2012 former and current African-American teachers had a far higher median debt amount ($26,405) than their Latinx ($13,119) or white ($13,662) counterparts and were the only group with a higher median than in 2008 ($22,699); and that in 2015-16 African-American teachers earned 5 percent less on average than white teachers ($52,420 vs. $55,120). The study also found that African-American and Latinx educators are more likely than their white peers to take out federal loans to attend graduate school, with the report's authors suggesting that African-American teachers may be struggling to repay those loans. To address the adverse impact of disparities in student debt burdens on a more diverse workforce, the report calls for increasing teachers' salaries and closing wage gaps; using district- or state-based loan forgiveness programs and scholarships as recruitment tools; increasing support for teacher-preparation programs at minority-serving institutions; and conducting further research.

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