There’s a growing racial gap between students and their teachers. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision on May 18, the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association released data from the National Center of Education Statistics, which found that 82 percent of the teachers are white, while 48 percent of the students are non-white.
The racial gap among teachers will grow according to experts. Woodrow Wilson reports that if current trends hold, the percentage of teachers of color will fall to an all-time low of 5 percent of the total teacher workforce by 2020. At the same time the percentage of students of color will likely exceed 50 percent in the fall of 2014.
Most people look at these numbers and singularly point to a teacher pipeline issue. We assume that people of color need to be recruited into the profession. But, let’s not fall in the trap of blaming people of color for these numbers. Ask, “Why aren’t people of color being hired as teachers?”
In debates about who should teach, we often hear, “what does race have to do with good teaching?” District and state leaders frequently justify radical changes in staffing – often forced – that result in significant shifts in the racial makeup of the teaching workforce, with the belief of race shouldn’t matter. Given the social consequences and the billions of dollars involved in education, the economic and academic stakes of who teaches are certainly high. Who ultimately gets to teach reflects the political maneuvering for those stakes. Saying race doesn’t matter actually benefits predominately-white organizations.
Race matters when it comes to teaching. Lessons are easier to learn when you can relate to what is taught, how it is taught and who teaches. Similarly, content has to be culturally relevant for students. Teachers also are the primary gatekeepers to a guild or field of study. Teachers don’t dispense skills as much as they usher future apprentices into a particular academic discipline. In this regard, culture matters. We need black biologists and Latino writers, so that all students can see members of those groups as belonging in their respective fields.
An adequate pool of teachers provides the purest evidence that our educational system and schools are working. The desire to become a teacher is strongly correlated with how students are treated in schools. We should not be surprised that the percentage of teachers of color is declining when we examine the high rates of suspension and expulsion among students of color. Even the brand of “discipline” school leaders often brag about dispensing insidiously removes teaching as a future employment option. A quality school climate and good experience compels students to become teachers. The inverse is true. Bad climates repel teaching as a career choice.
As we reflect on Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act anniversaries, we can see how far we still are from a democratic ideal. The goal of reform should not be to close some numerical achievement gap. Reform is about improving the racial climate of schools, and about increasing the number of teachers, biologist, engineers and writers. Education reform is about hiring practices. Too many reformers and education groups dismiss race as an important factor in selecting a teacher and abdicate their responsibilities to provide substantive opportunities to black and brown people. Academic growth without corollary employment growth signals discrimination; one without the other isn’t a sign of progress. To not have significant groups participate in their own development is paternalistic discrimination.
Closing the proverbial achievement gap is not the true goal. Building stronger communities in which everyone can live out their potential is. It’s not too much to ask for academic growth and employment. Brown v. Board of Education didn’t seek to increase academic achievement in lieu of employment opportunities, did it? It’s been 60 years since the landmark decision, and we still haven’t learned the meaning of civil rights.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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