Reflecting on Black History Month

Reflecting on Black History Month image

At the Charles Butt Foundation, we are committed to helping create a more equitable and prosperous future for all students, especially our students of color and those from low-income families. We also believe public schools must continuously improve and innovate to meet the needs of all students. Every child, in every community, deserves access to a high-quality public school so they can pursue and reach their full potential.

Representation matters in education

 According to the 2022 Charles Butt Foundation poll, a majority of Black Texans (67 percent) feel that lack of access to teachers who are the same race/ethnicity as their students is a barrier or significant barrier to learning. Ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education requires each child feels represented within their school community. The Texas Teacher Workforce Report, released in 2021, found during the 2018-19 school 59 percent of Texas teachers were White and 41 percent were teachers of color, while only 27 percent of students were White and 73 percent of students were students of color.

A 2017 study, published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, found that assigning Black elementary school students a Black teacher significantly reduced the probability that they would drop out of high school. Additionally, researchers found that exposure to at least one Black teacher in grades 3 through 5 increased the likelihood that students from low-income backgrounds would aspire to attend a four-year college. 

The Charles Butt Foundation is committed to helping build a more diverse teacher workforce and that commitment is embedded in our statewide programs and other initiatives, including:

Raising Texas Teachers

This 10-year, $50 million program is designed to: 

  • recruit a talented and diverse teacher workforce through the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers; 
  • raise the overall quality of teacher preparation through deep partnerships with university-based teacher preparation programs
  • Elevate the status of the teaching profession through various campaigns, promotions, and public engagement.

Raising School Leaders

Through this program, we invest more than one million dollars annually in leadership development training and events for school principals as well as campus and district teams to enhance student achievement and address equity issues statewide. Recently we sponsored a cohort of 15 school leaders from Texas to participate in the Harvard Principal Center’s School Leaders of Color Organizational Development Collaborative. Over the past year, we have partnered with these 15 school leaders to identify ways we can better support current and aspiring school leaders of color in Texas.

Some positive signs, more work needed

Progress is happening in some areas. The Texas Teacher Workforce Report found our state is closing the gap between the number of Black students in Texas public school classrooms and Black teachers. Between 2010 and 2020, the Texas teacher workforce has experienced a 38 percent growth in Black male teachers, and a 23 percent growth in Black female teachers.

As Black History Month closes, we at the Charles Butt Foundation want to both celebrate the progress being made toward more diverse representation in the Texas teaching profession as well as continue to bring attention to the value and importance of diversity. You’ll see more stories and content in this regard from the Charles Butt Foundation in the near future.

These three videos, shared in honor of Black History Month, highlight stories of Black joy and excellence in Texas public schools, and the importance of Black representation in our public schools and classrooms. 

Erika Carter, an alumna of the Raising School Leaders program, tells about what it means to return to the community she grew up in as a school leader with a vision for building a sanctuary for her students.
C’Sherica Shaw, another Charles Butt Scholar, brings joy to her classroom where she carries out her passion to work with students others may label unfairly.
Trey Fisher, one of more than 500 students who have received Charles Butt Scholarships, since inception, is an example of why representation in the classroom matters.

These stories represent just a few examples of Black joy, excellence, and representation in Texas public schools. There are thousands more of these stories. And we look forward to sharing more of them soon.