It has been a while but I am back at it. Thanksgiving break is here and I just couldn’t let this topic slip away this year. This three part series will no doubt be of more interests to schools boards and school administrators and teachers but students will want to read this as well. There have been studies to show that there are some intangible benefits to have teachers that look like their students. The following study supports that and I as a former Career Counselor understand that part of the equation.
DIVERSITY IN SCHOOLS: A NATIONAL SNAPSHOT
Research to date highlights the symbolic and tangible benefits of a diverse teaching force. For example, quantitative studies have shown positive associations between same-race teachers and diverse students’ attendance, academic achievement, and mathematics course selection.6 Qualitative research further suggests that students of color perceive teachers that share their cultural backgrounds as more accessible and caring, and their instructional practices as more engaging.7 Importantly, teachers of color are more likely to remain in high needs schools longer than white teachers, thereby adding needed stability and professional capital to these schools and their predominantly non-white student populations.8 While such studies do not support the simplistic notion that only culturally diverse teachers can be effective in culturally diverse classrooms, they highlight the unique role that teachers of color play in improving educational experiences and outcomes for students of color.
I am not an advocate of soling hiring people simply because of the color of their skin. I am an advocate of hiring “qualified” people regardless of color.
However, the background for this series of articles comes from my own education as well as what education has become today. I just finished watching a disturbing YouTube post by a teacher in Green Bay Wisconsin who submitted her resignation due to the deteriorating conditions in her school district. You may choose to watch the video later. After looking at their student demographics it appears to be diverse and it should be noted the teachers concerns were about the conduct of the students not their color. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnKcl93C5Oo
For the purposes of these 3 articles it is important to state that Green Bay is only ONE school among thousands throughout the US who are experiencing similar problems, some on an even greater scale. The video is being used only to demonstrate what Special Ed school teachers have to deal with everyday regarding behavior of students in general.
To help you understand my point of view it would be helpful to know a little about my ethnicity. We have been a multicultural family since the 1800s. White and Hispanic. African American and Jewish. Seriously, dad was a Vanderbilt descendant and Grandma was a Weinstein. When you come to our family reunions you will think you are at a United Nations event, with Japanese wives of my uncles, multiple Indian tribes and hues and hair textures to match. Needless to say the food is always crack-a-lackin! My wife’s background is strictly German and English and Scottish and she is enjoys the multi-culture cuisine….without the HOT SAUCE!!! 🙂
As a Special Ed teacher in a local high school she has seen the population rapidly change from a predominantly white suburban population with a few ethnic groups to an urban population with fewer white students and a black Superintendent. We both attended a small private college in a Mideast state back in the 70’s. Our roommates in college were from Chicago, New Jersey, New York, various towns in Ohio. I traveled with the Overnight Low Show Band out of Dayton Ohio who became SUN, (We’re here Sun is here) and Roger Troutman and the Human Body who eventually became Zap.
Our private college was one of many who saw National Acts through the National Entertainment Conference (NEC) at a discount. My high school alum and College Admissions counselor was the National Entertainment Conference counselor who actually booked over 800 colleges throughout the Midwest and Eastern states. Some of those schools included Wilberforce, Central State, Wittenberg, Antioch, Bowling Green, Ball State, to name a few. Some of the national musicians, included Bootsy Collins, Natalie Cole, Earth Wind and Fire, Chi-Lites, Grover Washington, Bobbie Humphrey, Gil Scott Heron to name a few. The wife and I would go to the Kool Valley Jazz Festivals in Milwaukee and dance to James Brown, Gladys Knight, Brecker Brothers, Tower of Power, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bohannon, and immerse ourselves into the culture of the day “without” all of the drugs and paraphernalia. We even endured hate crimes and hate mail. But we never allowed negative opinions to interfere with our life.
My point in sharing this is because there are many individuals like my wife who is of German decent who have had similar experiences with racism and hatred and multiculturalism, but their school administrators and certain staff only see a European American female whom they think has no understanding of “their culture” or “their struggles”. So I figure if she is experience this in her school then there must be other white teachers who are experiencing something similar.
Certain people of color just assume all white people grew up in some isolated place in the world with no understanding of human struggles in history. The administrators or coworkers never bother to ask them about their lives or how and where they grew up and how their experiences molded their personalities.
Our daughter went to the same high school and is now working in a local district. Special Ed teachers are overworked (60-70 hours a week is not unheard of) and underpaid for all of the abuses and threats they have to endure throughout the day. Regular teachers teach a class and go home. They only deal with parents during a parent teacher conference. Just like the video above my wife has endured threats from students, name calling, swearing, fights, yelling, screaming, abusive speech, and outright threats from students and is totally misunderstood by teachers of color.
So what is the point of this article?
See The problem with Race Based Education Part II