Where Are All the Teachers of Color?
In 2016, students of color became the majority of public school populations. Why then, are their teachers so white?
My website will explore the barriers facing people of color to becoming teachers, the challenges they face in staying on the job, and the actions communities undertake to make sure that those who educate their children are a part of their communities.
Fighting for educators to come from the communities (of color) that they serve gets at the root of systemic injustice; it breaks against the tradition of intervention by “white saviors” or outsiders who think they know better trying to take control of the community. When communities of color advocate for themselves, they fight against the systems of oppression perpetuated by neoliberal reform–an idea I explore in TRUE GRASSROOTS IN AN ERA OF NEOLIBERALISM.
My website focuses on Chicago, a city with a rich history of grassroots organizing for teachers of color and the home of the Grow Your Own Teacher Act. As this legislation grew out of grassroots organizing in the city, Chicago gives us a model for how grassroots organizing can yield demonstrable success. For more information on the Chicago grassroots movement, look at ON THE GROUND WITH GRASSROOTS GROUPS: ORGANIZATION SYNTHESIS.
With almost 370,000, Chicago is the archetypal “urban” setting. In Chicago, students of color make up about 90% percent of the public school population–and yet, teachers of color make up less than half the workforce (Chicago Public Schools, 2017). My website will explore what communities are doing to change this.
So, why is it so difficult to recruit and retain teachers of color?
To help answer this question, I’ve pulled tweets from the #EduColor twitter feed, a place in which teachers of color share their experiences online. Let’s look at some of the barriers and challenges teachers of color face:
- Underfunded Schools:
Serious question: My school building is *literally* falling apart, and at times it would've killed someone if we'd been less lucky. Teachers are afraid, but there's no new building coming to save us & community doesn't realize. What can teachers do? #edequity #educolor #edchat
— Rebecca Mathinaz (@mathinaz) May 15, 2018
- Demoralizing administrations:
Teacher Un-Appreciation Day. https://t.co/z6rGSOLlWN
— Annie Tan (@AngryTeachr) May 8, 2018
- Curriculum that perpetuates white supremacy through colorblindness:
“Many owners treated slaves well, but some beat and abused slaves.”
— zellie (@zellieimani) May 6, 2018
Teachers of color face an array of challenges thanks to the systematic racism they encounter every day in the classroom. How are teachers of color organizing themselves to make sure that more educators like them join–and stay in–the profession? To learn more, visit the page TESTIMONY AND TRIUMPH: PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLE SYNTHESIS.
Recruiting and maintaining educators of color is a battle worth fighting for; after all, teachers of color bring so much to the classroom. They neutralize the threat that stereotypes bring to education, they better understand the challenges facing students of color, and they incorporate perspectives different from the Eurocentric classroom norm. For more information on why we need teachers of color, click on THE VALUE OF TEACHERS OF COLOR: PROFESSIONAL ARTICLE SYNTHESIS.
As an educator, may I always be a lock picker, never a gatekeeper.#EduColor
— Anthony Ocampo (@anthonyocampo) December 29, 2017
To understand how communities of color are untangling the web of challenges that teachers of color face, consider exploring the different tabs of this webpage. My site honors the work that grassroots groups do every day to bring about social change that often goes unrecognized.
CPS Stats and Facts. (2017). Retrieved from https://cps.edu/About_CPS/At-a-glance/Pages/Stats_and_facts.aspx