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Perspective | Want parent engagement? Hire more BIPOC teachers, and support them.

“…we found that parent-teacher ethnic concordance enhances teacher ratings of relationship strength. As such, more teacher diversity, especially in schools with highly diverse student populations, may create more opportunities for parents and teachers to develop relationships that positively contribute to student achievement.”

Longitudinal Impact of Sociocultural Factors and Parent Beliefs on Parent-Teacher Relationship Strength

Schools are ecosystems where the aspirations of administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members all collide. When this collision is in alignment, we see students of color reach and secure their wildest dreams. When there is misalignment, our students suffer.

Recent research offers new insights about what makes the teacher-parent relationship work. We know that there is a positive correlation between teacher-parent relationships and student educational attainment. Given the history of schooling in our country, teachers who share the same racialized or ethnic background of their students are uniquely positioned to help students’ parents find critical hope in schooling.

Parents of color remain vigilant about their children’s experiences in systems that continue to harm their physical and psychosocial well-being, and teachers can help illuminate for parents what is possible and what could be, especially when they share the same background. Research shows that “Increasing parent perceptions of children’s capacity for educational attainment may help strengthen existing parent-teacher relationships,” which we know impacts student achievement and opportunity. 

Diversifying the teacher work force is critical, yet we know that simply diversifying the teaching force is an inadequate response to the injustices that teaches of color, particularly Black teachers, have faced and continue to face in education. In addition to needing tailored support and professional development that takes into account the challenges Black teachers experience having to navigate systems that were never meant to include and indeed were designed to exclude our children, teachers of color need to be in schools whose leadership and cultural environment is dedicated to protecting, supporting, and listening to them, not tokenizing or exceptionalizing them. As Jesse Williams so poignantly remarked, “Just because we’re magic does not mean we’re not real.”

The impact of a diverse teaching staff on the catalytic nature of parent-teacher relationships can not be stressed enough. “More teacher diversity,” says the research, “especially in schools with highly diverse student populations, may create more opportunities for parents and teachers to develop relationships that positively contribute to student achievement.” The Leandro report, Sound Basic Education for All: An Action Plan for North Carolina, has already identified increasing the diversity of the education workforce as a major recommendation for systems transformation in North Carolina. Education partners can turn to Profound Ladies as an essential partner in the recruitment and retention of teachers of color.

Profound Ladies was founded in 2020 to honor the overlooked and disregarded power of the education systems’ most disposable population: BIPOC women and girls.  When many educators and educational institutions grapple with cultivating the antiracism of a predominately white women teacher force, Profound Ladies shifts our attention to the canaries in the mine — BIPOC women teachers — who have visions of healing, liberation, and equity for us all to learn from. By turning our attention to the recruitment and retention of BIPOC teachers, Profound Ladies, in step with the Leandro report, believes BIPOC women teachers’ presence and power is essential to addressing educational inequity. The research is clear: BIPOC women teachers offer a salve that benefits all students. 

Profound Ladies invests in the brilliance of current and aspiring women of color educators by connecting them to a community grounded in their identities and shared commitments to liberatory education. If we want to see parent-teacher relationships blossom, we must water the seeds within BIPOC women teachers. Profound Ladies has successfully launched its inaugural cohort of teachers, but more teachers deserve the unique programming only Profound Ladies can offer.

Profound Ladies is working with a cohort of BIPOC women education administrators, and more desire the support. You can help Profound Ladies expand its reach by donating. If your district desires this type of partnership, learn more about how Profound Ladies is nurturing the seeds of BIPOC women’s pedagogies by visiting our website.

Keiyonna Dubashi
Keiyonna Dubashi is a veteran educator with over 20 years of experience in education. Dubashi is the founder and executive director of Profound Ladies. She resides in North Carolina with her husband and three children.
Anna Almore

Anna Almore is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan’s Joint Program in English and Education. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, she taught middle school and then coached and trained teachers across the nation from 2008-2019 with Teach for America. Her most recent research projects focus on BIPOC teacher retention, Black-Indigenous coalition building, and collective healing.