- Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., speaking at Howard University, March 8, 2016.
- The student population in California is becoming increasingly diverse.
- There’s are not enough teachers of color teaching in our classrooms.
When I was a kid, I attended an elementary school in Oakland. Its name “La Escuelita”, means “Little School” in Spanish. At La Escuelita, 90% of the teacher and admin body was composed of teachers of color. From pre-school to fifth grade, I was lucky enough to be taught by staff who looked and sounded like me. My parents were heavily involved in my education, and the administration welcomed their presence and opinions. Everything was taught in Spanish and English, which allowed me to develop complex thinking skills and a solid understanding of both languages. As a result, I legitimately grew up thinking that I could become anything I wanted to be. The thought of higher education was not daunting, rather an expectation for me.
It wasn’t until 6th grade that I learned that I’d been living a fallacy of sorts. La Escuelita wasn’t the norm, it was the exception. Teachers were constantly taken aback by how “smart” I was. I remember talking about my life plans with my 8th grade teacher years later. I told her about my plans to go to college and later become a successful, doctor? I can’t remember what I wanted to be anymore. What I do remember is the look on her face. She told me I was the first student she had ever met who thought about college as something that was definitely going to happen. She’d spent years teaching children involved in gangs in the streets of Chicago and now she was in Oakland hoping to save the next crew of students. I was confused. I wasn’t in a gang, and I didn’t need saving.
In an effort to connect with us, my summer book list was composed of books like, Always Running by Luis Rodriguez (a book about a student who overcomes gang life) and another book about teenage pregnancy. My parents were around, but not comfortable enough to bring up the evident stereotyping issues in our assignments. Unsurprisingly, none of the books on my summer reading lists made any of the topics on the SAT’s or my college English placement tests.
In 2016, the US Department of Education released The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce Report, which states the following: “...compared with their peers, teachers of color are more likely to:
- Have higher expectations of students of color (as measured by higher numbers of referrals to gifted programs);
- Confront issues of racism;
- Serve as advocates and cultural brokers;
- Develop more trusting relationships with students, particularly those with whom they share a cultural background”
I am incredibly proud of the work that Seneca is doing to promote POC’s in leadership and teaching positions, but we can still do more!
So tell me. What do you all think? What can we do to bridge this gap in educators?
Leave your thoughts below!