Though many have claimed issues of recruitment and retention are to blame for the lack of Black teachers, a Harvard Educational Review study contends racial bias and discrimination are culprits, as well.

The study, entitled “Where Are All the Black Teachers: Discrimination in the Teacher Market,” used a multitude of methods for collecting and analyzing data which led researchers to conclude that while both Black and white teachers were equally qualified, white teachers were hired at a disproportionately higher rate. Authors of the study Diana D’Amico, Robert J. Pawlewicz, Penelope M. Earley and Adam P. McGeehan, found that in 2012, Blacks made up 13 percent of all applicants to the school district under study, but were only hired at a rate of six percent. Conversely, whites comprised 70 percent of the applicant pool and were hired at a higher rate of 77 percent.

“This is just another example of how ideas about race and racism, to be frank, are deeply embedded in the schools, study author and researcher Diana D’Amico, who is an assistant professor at George Mason University. “The other thing is, if there are these racial assumptions that inhibit the hiring of black individuals, I wonder how those same perceptions influence teachers once they’re already in the system.”

Additionally, the study found that Black teachers were disproportionately more likely to be hired at schools where there was a black principal or at schools with more low-income and minority students.

Study authors call for researchers, policy makers, and school leaders at the district and building levels to examine hiring practices, which may be symptomatic of broader institutional biases, so that they may identify and eliminate inherent prejudices.

By Aswad Walker