Black Teachers are Umm…Black Too

My mother is a teacher. She has been a teacher all my life, first at day cares and preschools, then at a family day care in our home. A few years ago, she began teaching in the public school district in Philadelphia. She teaches in an elementary school that is 96% black, with 95% of the children eligible for free or reduced lunch. The school is located in a high poverty, as well as high crime neighborhood. Children come to school with no supplies, sometimes no clean clothes, and often hungry. My mother and her colleagues often not only teach the children, but they feed and clothe them. My mother did not have to become a public school teacher. She chose to because she loves black children.

So when Joel Kline, the former head of the New York City Public Schools, and DropOut Nation, a blog that covers school reform, both criticized the NAACP for joining forces with the American Teacher Federation in their effort to close 19 NYC schools, I instinctively gave pause. Both sources made the claim that effectively said that the NAACP were “hurting black children,” who, in their opinions, the group was supposed to be protecting. The teachers’ union and the NAACP say the lawsuit is based on the fact that the City should be fixing the schools, rather than shutting them down. In their view, the City’s process of gradually phasing out the schools means that the students left behind inherently get a worse education than the students in the schools that replace the shut down schools. The City is also allowing charter schools – which notoriously do not have to hire unionized teachers – access to the facilities previously held by the phased out schools. The City argues that the unions and the NAACP is standing in the way of reform and meaningful student, and parent, choice, and that all the union cares about are teacher jobs. They consistently express their “disappointment” at the NAACP for failure to protect black children.

But aren’t black teachers black too? Continue reading “Black Teachers are Umm…Black Too”