Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Robert Calvert

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Tiffany Smith-Simmons


African American teachers are slowly leaving the classroom, causing an imbalance in the student/teacher ratio (NCES, 2019). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African American teachers make up 3% in California and 7% nationally. This study sought to understand the reasons for the decline in the number of African American teachers in public school settings. Due to the decline in their numbers, African American students have suffered high dropout rates, low standardized test scores, and low college attendance (Gershenson, Hart, Hyman, Lindsey, & Papageorge, 2017). This qualitative study examined the obstacles current African American teachers face and the celebrations that sustain them. This study also sought participant input on future recruitment, support, and retention of African American teachers. Purposive sampling was used to understand the phenomena African American teachers encounter while working in public school settings (Creswell, 2012). Prerequisites included self-identification as African-American/Black, teaching in grades K-12, and two years of public school experience. Participants who did not meet all three criteria were disqualified. The results showed that districts need to increase pay to attract more African American teachers. In addition, to pay increases, participants identified obstacles such as placement in high-needs schools and experiencing a lack of respect from parents and peers. The love of students and being the change African American students deserve were identified as motivating sustainers. The findings from this study may help teacher preparation programs, districts, and administrators nationwide recruit more African American teachers. It may also influence the creation of affinity programs for recruiting, supporting, and retaining African-American teachers.





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