Response to “NYC’s Disappearing Black/Latino Public School Teachers”

White Teacher - Black Student

The article “NYC’s Disappearing Black/Latino Public School Teachers” appears on the blog titled “Black Educator.”

The central question raised by this post is whether or not a teacher’s ethnicity or racial background has an impact on effective instruction for students who may or may not share the same ethnicity or racial backgrounds as their teachers.

The subsidiary question then becomes whether there is a systematic flaw in the hiring process of teachers that allows for the teaching population to not reflect the ethnic or racial background of students in the classroom.

I graduated from an education program at Howard University; a program which prided itself on ensuring its graduates had an immense understanding of the particular kinds of struggles and achievements that students of color can endure.

On the other hand, many folks take shots at teacher education programs like Teach for America for their recruitment process and severely low retention rates, precisely because there is a sense that these teachers are overwhelmingly white.  I am not convinced that ethnicity or racial background has a direct correlation with quality teaching.

Really, I think focusing on the issue of ethnicity or racial background of teachers is really a “smoke-and-mirrors” tactic to hide the real truth behind an ethnically or racially skewed teacher workforce.

I have my own biases and personal feelings towards the organization, because when I sought to become a teacher, I was not “chosen,” even after making it to step 2 of TFA hiring process.  However, four years later, I am still teaching, growing, learning and am probably a better teacher (eating humble pie….now!) than most of the teachers they did choose–I certainly know I am still teaching than most of the teachers they chose because the statistics prove it.

However, I am sure there are many TFA folks whose lives have been changed as a result of their 2 year stint as a teacher and they very well may be causing educational equity and change in various other capacities than as a teacher.

But I digress.  What is the point?  The point is not to bash any education program or promote another.  The point is to not equate successful teaching with one’s ethnic or racial background.

I think that rather than play a blame game that serves to only bring individuals and entities down, I think the focus should be on providing every opportunity for young people of color to graduate from high school, continue to college, and obtain a master’s degree (NYC’s teacher certification requirements) so that they can make the decision for themselves about whether they wish to teach.

While there are many systematic flaws to blame, the true blame is still inadequate education.  Inadequately prepared Black/Latino children can not one day populate the nation’s teacher workforce, period.  There is no discussion here.

I think the true reason why, according to the article, the nation’s teacher workforce is 80% white is in direct correlation to the inadequate and inequitable state of public education for Black/Latino children over the last two centuries.

Leave a Comment Starter:   Do you think a teacher’s racial or ethnic background impacts their ability to effectively teach and raise student achievement?

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