In light of the lack of diversity in thought and culture within our teaching corps, there’s an astounding disconnect. I don’t believe that only teachers of color should teach diverse students, but only 17 percent of public school teachers and 19 percent of principals are of color, and out of the 7.2 million-plus K-12 teachers, only about 534,000 elementary educators are of color. That number drops to 199,000 by high school, a 63 percent dip in representation.
As a result, when students find a teacher of color, they gravitate towards us—much to the delight of parents and administrators who see the value of teachers of color in the classroom, and to the chagrin of fellow teachers who prefer to have their peers fit a specific and dominant mold of teaching. Teachers of color do disagree on the best pedagogical practice: Some believe in constructivist discovery of material while others believe in rote memorization of basic facts. A bunch of us, including myself, believe in a healthy mix of both.
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Mr. Vilson, who rarely needs a muse …