Public Schools Are Struggling to Retain Black Teachers. These Ex-Teachers Explain Why

Public schools are struggling to retain Black teachers. These ex-teachers explain why

1/12/2022 6:03:00 AM

Public schools are struggling to retain Black teachers. These ex-teachers explain why

Black teachers are leaving the profession at faster rates than white teachers as they face pushback over efforts to discuss racism in the classroom and deal with pandemic-related stress

about white people’s discomfort discussing race; and expressed concern that Lusher had provided teachers with a resource library of antiracist materials.Read more:“Real change would be open and honest conversations with all of the stakeholders in our school,” Talbott said at the meeting, reading from a prepared statement. “Real change would be immediate feedback to our students that have the courage to share their experiences. Real change would be me feeling that my voice, as a Black woman, is important.”

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White people should solve their problem with their ancestors who captured and brought all those African people to use inhumanly and exploit for free. UNACCEPTABLE TEACHERS have LIVES OUTSIDE of EVERY CLASS ROOM How do you mean Black teachers,,?,,, Black or 'People of the colour',,, doesn't resonate well with what I stand for... Sounds to me as a 'racist' caption

They want two many days off 😡

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The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate . The letter, written in December, 2020, said Riedlinger told administrators they were “not to engage in any dialogue” when teachers, including Talbott and Gleghorn, brought forward their concerns in the wake of Floyd’s death. It also says that Riedlinger at one point instructed administrators to stop speaking with the Anti-Defamation League; told Corbett to cancel a staff book club meeting to discuss White Fragility, about white people’s discomfort discussing race; and expressed concern that Lusher had provided teachers with a resource library of antiracist materials. A Lusher spokeswoman did not address specific statements regarding Riedlinger but detailed several steps she said the school has taken toward racial equity over the last year and a half. “Corbett’s allegations were fully investigated by an independent firm and found not to merit any action by the school,” a Lusher spokeswoman said in a written statement. Corbett has since left Lusher and now serves as CEO of New Orleans’ Audubon Schools. Gleghorn and Talbott, too, are gone. Read more: Meet the Educators Who Saved a Pandemic School Year Up until the 2020-21 school year, Gleghorn says he had been in the pipeline for an administrative position at Lusher. “The events of the summer and fall of 2020 really cleared up for me that I didn’t want to work for these people,” he says. In the spring of 2021, Gleghorn accepted a job at the New Orleans Career Center, a nonprofit that provides high school students and adults access to career and technical training. In April, Talbott announced at a community meeting that she would leave at the end of the school year. She made the specifics public—particularly the fact that she had no new job lined up—because she didn’t want school leaders to dismiss the departure by implying she left for something “bigger” or “better.” “Real change would be open and honest conversations with all of the stakeholders in our school,” Talbott said at the meeting, reading from a prepared statement. “Real change would be immediate feedback to our students that have the courage to share their experiences. Real change would be me feeling that my voice, as a Black woman, is important.” "I was tired of being quiet. I was tired of sitting back so that white people could feel comfortable." In a written statement, a Lusher spokeswoman, Cheron Brylski, described Talbott and Gleghorn as “quality and valued teachers” and said both had expressed a desire to leave for other opportunities before the pandemic. (Talbott denied this, as did Gleghorn. “There was no plan prior to the pandemic, prior to George Floyd,” she said. “I had talked to no one about leaving Lusher, period.”) Gleghorn and Talbott had numerous leadership opportunities, the statement said, but it did not address Gleghorn’s concern that he was removed with little explanation from leading the learning and diversity committees. Brylski denied that Lusher leaders obstructed teachers’ efforts at open conversation of race at the school in the months after George Floyd’s murder. “Our administration listened with respect and consideration, and no follow-up conversations were stonewalled,” she said, portraying the teachers as demanding “immediate action” while Lusher leadership adhered to a slower, “well-established and proven process.” As a result of that process, administrators sent a school-wide communication in July 2020, which read, in part: “We affirm that Black lives matter (sic).To that end, we have defined an initial set of target concerns and action steps…We will continue to refine these as we hear and learn more.” Takeru Nagayoshi NEA Foundation "If I'm not going to be the one who ... centers conversations on George Floyd or Stop Asian Hate, no one else is going to do it." Takeru Nagayoshi, the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, says it’s not surprising that teachers of color are feeling especially strained these days. They have long faced an “invisible tax” that for many has steepened over the last two years, says Nagayoshi, who’s known as TK. “When you work or navigate predominantly white spaces, you feel the need to unpack race and racism,” he says. “If I’m not going to be the one who brings up DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) or center conversations on George Floyd or Stop Asian Hate, no one else is going to do it.” Nagayoshi, 30, decided in August to leave his job teaching Advanced Placement English in the city of New Bedford for a job at an education technology company. He continues to love many parts of the teaching profession but cited burnout stemming from different factors: increased work hours and responsibilities; coping with decreased morale and a traumatized community; low pay; and a rigid schedule that made it difficult to find sufficient time for exercise or personal relationships. “The balance of what was acceptable wasn’t there for me anymore,” Nagayoshi says. Finding a better way forward Schools may be struggling more than ever to retain teachers of color, but in some places, recruitment of diverse candidates has gone up during the pandemic. Mississippi, Massachusetts , and New Jersey are among states that, fearful of teacher shortages and facing hiring challenges due to the pandemic, temporarily removed or changed some barriers to entering the field—such as extending emergency licenses or adjusting test score thresholds—that often disproportionately hurt Black candidates, who are more likely to face barriers such as less access to college prep curriculum at their high schools. Read more: How Schools Are Struggling With a Substitute Teacher Shortage A year and a half ago, officials in Mississippi temporarily waived many of the licensure exam requirements for new teachers, as well as test score requirements for students entering teacher preparation programs. The changes enabled Mari Williams, who is Black, to enter a teacher-preparation program for the first time. She has worked in Mississippi for years, first as a tutor and then as an assistant teacher. Yet her ACT score fell one point short of the minimum required to train for a teacher job. The waiver reignited her dream of running her own classroom. “One of the things that convinced me to go back is that we have such a low number of African American educators across the board,” she says. “This is something I can do to bring diversity to the classroom.” Preliminary data show that the waivers, which ended at the end of 2021, have significantly boosted the diversity of teacher candidates in Mississippi. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of people of color entering educator preparation programs jumped by more than 400%. (The growth in the number of white candidates was about 44%.) “We were already looking at a huge teacher shortage and we did not need to compound that crisis more with COVID,” says Debra Burson, the director of educator preparation at the Mississippi Department of Education. “We opened the gate rather than closed the gate.” Mari Williams Kelly Marzoni Gardner "This is something I can do to bring diversity to the classroom." Yet without a plan to support the new teachers coming in, teacher diversity is unlikely to improve significantly in the long term. “We talk about cultural competence, and many Black educators are trying to navigate their colleagues’ and supervisors’ cultural incompetence on top of everything else,” says El-Mekki. White educators and school leaders, as well as school-district and state policy-makers must do more to support teachers of color, according to the report released in the fall of 2021. They “are not expecting perfection, but they are expecting a commitment and plans to do better—and that it’s not just on them,” El-Mekki says. The report advises putting in place curriculum rooted in students’ cultures and life experiences, and ensuring that Black teachers have access to affinity groups and mentorship. Schools have long been held accountable for all manner of data—everything from student test scores to suspension rates and number of hot school lunches served. They must now also be held publicly accountable for recruitment and retention of teachers of color, the report concludes. That includes school districts’ establishing, and publishing, clear goals when it comes to teacher diversity, and releasing school-climate and teacher-exit surveys, with results broken down by race. “Very few districts have goals as it relates to teacher diversity,” says El-Mekki. “You can’t move forward if you don’t know where you want to go.” In July, Lusher families sent the school’s board a letter —now signed by more than 250 parents—pushing for the exact things that El-Mekki encourages. “We are dismayed with the administration and board’s response to student and faculty calls to confront racism within our school community,” it said in part. Lusher, through its spokeswoman, has repeatedly insisted on the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and staff well-being. Fewer than 9% of Lusher’s academic staff has left since the start of the pandemic, Brylski said in her statement. And the departures include just two of 33 African American educators. More than half of new hires are people of color, as are two out of three principals. Lusher’s recent efforts, according to the statement, include the adoption of a K-8 antibias curriculum, development of a “micro-aggression reporting system”and a partnership with a Louisiana State University professor to shore up the school’s approach to diversity and wellness. When it comes to the recent teacher departures—including Talbott’s and Gleghorn’s—the school says it “encourages all staff to pursue career advancement.” Both Gleghorn and Talbott are happy in their new jobs but say it wasn’t career advancement that precipitated their decision to leave. After she gave notice, Talbott began overhauling her résumé, which hadn’t been updated in 20 years, and she met with a job coach. Early in the summer of 2021, she started a job with a company working to build a new social studies curriculum for public schools and districts. “My hope is to center the voices of the indigenous, of women, of Black people,” Talbott says. “Normally, when you are looking at history, the voices that are centered are those of landowning white men.” Talbott has no regrets about the job move. “It’s a selfless profession, but I had to be selfish,” she says. “I didn’t want to be in a job where I dreaded getting up every day and going to work.” Yet she cried on the first day of the 2021-22 school year last August while watching students across New Orleans returning to school. She missed the kids. Her departure had never been about them. It had been about following her mother’s lifelong advice: Go where you feel valued. This