Rann Miller: Why Aren’t There More Black Teachers?
In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, the country saw the mass firings of Black teachers, and the U.S teaching force has never really bounced back. And while we know about the many positive effects of Black teachers in the classroom, the racial make-up of our national teacher corps has come to less and less resemble the make-up of our national student body.
Rann Miller is director of the 21st Century Community Learning Center in Southern New Jersey. He is one of the Progressive School Fellows, and as such writes for Progressive’s Public School Shakedown feature.
His most recent piece focuses on the widespread lack of Black teachers in te classroom.
Charter schools have existed in Camden for more than twenty years, but the Urban Hope Act passed in 2012 (along with the state’s takeover of Camden City Schools), facilitated a mass student exodus. To be clear, my issue isn’t with where parents decided to send their children to school.
Rather, my contention is with a “strategy” that removes Black and brown children from a school system where parents have a say in how it’s governed, via school board elections, and the consequences, unintended, or intended, of reducing the Black teacher workforce.
Neither the dissolution of a governing power over a district nor the mass removal of white teachers is likely to happen in the New Jersey suburbs.
I’ve stated previously that, since 2013, the Camden City School District has lost 448 educators, 62 percent of whom were African American or Latinx. At renaissance schools, Black and Latinx teachers were never more than 35 percent of new hires.
The piece leads to a blunt question
The question it comes down to is this: Do we place higher value on the system of how people are educated or in the people who are being educated? If the highest value is on the children, then we must provide students with what they need to be successful.