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Sharif El-Mekki, principal of Mastery Shoemaker Elementary in Philadelphia, founded a group that seeks to boost the number of black male educators. Here, he is pictured in front of his school with two students. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Emma Lee / WHYY

As black teachers’ numbers drop in Philly, a look at why that matters

A conversation with Dale Mezzacappa on ‘The Why.’

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Studies indicate that when black students are taught by black teachers, it can have a profound effect on their lives. Yet in Pennsylvania, you could drive from north to south through an entire swath of the middle of the state and not find a single public school with a teacher of color. Just 5.6 percent of the state’s teachers are people of color, compared to 33.1 percent of its students. Most of Pennsylvania’s black teachers work in Philadelphia, but their numbers have dropped to less than 25 percent.

On this episode of The Why, Philadelphia Public School Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa tells us what’s driving this downward trend among black educators and what’s being done to turn it around.

Listen at WHYY.org