…we find that black students randomly assigned to a black teacher in grades K-3 are 5 percentage points (7%) more likely to graduate from high school and 4 percentage points (13%) more likely to enroll in college than their peers in the same school who are not assigned a black teacher.
…We envision role model effects as information provision: black teachers provide a crucial signal that leads black students to update their beliefs about the returns to effort and what educational outcomes are possible.
This is from an intriguing working paper looking at natural experiments in Louisiana and North Carolina.
It fits with similar research into the importance and lasting effects of role models. They spur our dreams, change our attitudes, and shape our beliefs and expectations.
A superstar – especially one that is like you – can completely shatter self imposed limitations. Take this from a famous recent paper:
Girls are more likely to invent in a particular class if they grow up in an area with more women (but not men) who invent in that class… These findings suggest that there are many “lost Einsteins” – individuals who would have had highly impactful inventions had they been exposed to innovation in childhood – especially among women, minorities, and children from low-income families.
In the west we tend to focus on the individual. Often in zero-sum situations.
But when you add in the context of previous and future generations, we all have a stake in a visible diversity of success.
It will spur the next generation. It compounds.
Wouldn’t we all benefit from fewer “lost Einstein’s”?
As always my emphasis.