The Center for American Progress released a report on Tuesday that found strong connections between the lack of diversity in the teaching profession and the disparate impact of student debt on Black and Latino college graduates.
The study found that 88 percent of Black teachers and 76 percent of Latino teachers used federal student loans to pursue a bachelor’s degree, compared with 73 percent of white teachers. Barely a quarter of white teachers took on federal student debt to complete a master’s degree, compared with 47 percent of Black educators and 37 percent of Latino teachers.
Among the top-percentile borrowers, Black and Latino teachers took out significantly more in loans on average to finance their education than whites. And with their debt loads growing during repayment, Black students who trained to be teachers may be struggling to repay the debt, according to the study.
The authors of the report say increasing teacher pay and easing the debt burden could help eliminate at least one barrier to recruiting and retaining teachers of color.
It has long been known that Black and Latino students are much harder hit by college debt than white students.
Wealth inequality and less funding of institutions that enroll the most Black and Latino college students have contributed to the current disparity between Black and Latino and white students. Racial bias and outright racism in the labor market also place Black college graduates at a disadvantage in repaying education debt.
The report found that on average, Black teachers earn $2,700 less a year than their white peers doing the same work.
The wage gap is made worse by pay inequities at schools in low-income neighborhoods, where educators earn about $4,000 less than teachers in more affluent neighborhoods. Black teachers disproportionately teach in schools in low-income neighborhoods.