Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Increasing the Number of Teachers of Color Matters

Blog of the day: Don't Settle
I am a minority.
With all due (dis)respect to Michelle Rhee-ing my own lips, after seeing the world premiere of the wonderfully-done The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, I am left thinking about where I stand in regards to the conversation about public schools, about teachers, and everything in between.
Teaching in a heavily Dominican and Mexican populated neighborhood, I teach in a school that reaches out to the new minority (and will become the new majority in a few decades). However, I am that new minority myself and, in some ways already, becoming part of the new majority. Let me explain.

Read on:
It was quite interesting to read 23 year old 2nd year Teaching Fellow Brent's post about being a Puerto Rican/Hispanic teacher in New York. I'm proud of the fact that our film triggered this response and I sincerely hope that when Brent is ready he joins the Real Reformers in GEM in the work they do. Calling for an increase in the number of teachers of color is one of the planks of just about every reformist activist group in NYC. The UFT also supports this demand. Our question is often what we can do about it.

Since Bloomberg took over we have been reporting on the drop in the number of teachers of color every year - Black teacher, in particular from around 27% in 2002 to around 12% in 2008. Well, if your main area of recruitment is Teach for America what do you expect? Just look around the schools loaded with TFAers. The schools at CUNY are not high on their list for recruiting. With 75% of the grads of the schools WalBlack'nBloomKlein run needing remediation at CUNY schools it may take students a little extra time to graduate and TFA is just not interested in that population. Don't get me wrong. TFA and even Tweed are desperate for people of color recruits - as long as they are from the "right" places. It's just more likely that the very people of color TFA and Tweed want are also heavily courted by business interests.

I worked in a school with many neighborhood people who worked their way up the career ladder - often starting out as a para and eventually becoming a teacher. They were rooted in the very communities the kids came from. But the ed deformers are out to destroy the neighborhood concept of a school, so don't expect to see this type of recruitment.

I was out with a group of Real Reformers last night and this issue was one of the main ideas we discussed. I found it interesting that even progressive white people have so much diversity in how they view race. I admit that I often don't get the subtleties which I unfortunately don't have time to go into now. Besides, I haven't sorted it all out yet myself. But I am learning a lot from my younger activist brethren.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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