barack obama Archives - The Jose Vilson

barack obama

TeacherOfColor

This morning, I came across this article on Huffington Post (I know, I know, hear me out, though) and thought I should ask questions about President Obama’s initiative to enforce former President George W. Bush’s mandates for “excellent teachers” to stay in the highest-need communities. Read this:

President Barack Obama’s new initiative, titled “Excellent Educators For All,” seeks to ensure that states comply with the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind mandate by asking state officials to submit “comprehensive educator equity plans” that detail how states plan to put quality educators in classrooms with disadvantaged students. The Department of Education also plans to pour millions of dollars into a “Education Equity Support Network” and publish profiles of states and districts that have succeeded in promoting teacher equity.

For one, I’m usually skeptical about any initiative that attempts excellence when we haven’t defined (or even characterized) what actual excellence is. For instance, people often describe an excellent teacher as “caring,” but isolating “caring” as a characteristic would be short-sighted in terms of identifying the best teachers. Even something like the Danielson Framework can’t quite pinpoint because numbers aren’t always facts.

Secondly, I often see people who talk up teacher quality not address the issue of working conditions. People too often make working conditions and teacher quality a chicken and an egg argument. There were presumably eggs before chickens, and so it goes that working conditions of a school generally support good teachers and keep them. Of course, there will be special cases that don’t fit the mold, but that tends to be the way it goes.

Here’s the thing: in my observations, teachers of color will stay in underserved communities where others won’t.

If you look at the graphs for the full picture, you’re basically seeing that richer, whiter schools get more experienced, more educated (at least in number of degrees) and more certified teachers, which seems to contradict a few narratives, mainly that the number of years and degrees don’t matter in terms of student performance. While this might have some external validity, I don’t see how anyone would choose a school that doesn’t have at least some experienced, educated, and certified staff. Unless they’re in a private or charter school, where restrictions on degrees or certifications are more lenient, at least in most urban areas.

Unless they’re in the high-need neighborhoods, which is code for schools with poor students of color.

Teachers of color aren’t only needed in these high-need neighborhoods, they are predominantly in these high-need schools. This, among other reasons I’m sure, is why, when schools get shut down in droves as they have in the last decade, teachers of color lose their jobs with those schools. From the plethora of educators of color I’ve spoken to, with various degrees, experiences, and backgrounds, they stay in certain schools because they came into teaching to serve children of color, and aren’t necessarily looking for career advancement.

Yet, because the working conditions didn’t work and the systems in place were neither conducive nor supportive of children of color and their teachers, they either stay and hope to wither the storm or, increasingly with much younger teachers of color, leave altogether to pursue other education-related professions where they can work on behalf of students without being tied to the classroom.

That’s why, by 2020, we may see a drop from 18% teachers of color to 5% teachers of color, and with male teachers of color already at 3%, this may certainly perpetuate the inequity we’re seeing in student achievement. More importantly, this threatens to make schools feel less inequitable.

But our country stays taking shortcuts to equity instead of making a real investment. More on this soon.

Jose

photo c/o

{ 8 comments }

boondocksmlkjr

A few notes:

Quotable:

It all comes down to how you teach people to fight with the tools they have. We have been fighting with the bosses’ tools. We can spend a lot of time doing legislation. I think that’s fine—have a legislative approach. But understand that you don’t control that process. We can talk about electing the right people, but ultimately, unless we have a state house full of teachers and paraprofessionals and clinicians, I don’t think we’ll get what we want coming out of state legislatures. You need to have good relationships with legislators; you need to have members get in touch and let them know what’s important to you. That’s one tool. But it’s not the only tool.

Our best tool is our ability to put 20,000 people in the street. I don’t care if one rich guy buys up all the ad space. The tool that we have is a mass movement. We have the pressure of mass mobilization and organizing.

- Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union

As we consider Martin Luther King’s legacy today and the re-inauguration of Barack Obama, Lewis’ words ought to ring true to anyone fighting for equity in this country.

{ 0 comments }

An excerpt from my latest at Education Week:

With that said, even if we reach the lofty goal of getting 100,000 more math and science teachers into classrooms, the problem will most likely not be recruitment but retention. Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, recently cited new research re-confirming what so many of us have known all along: Math and science teachers leave the profession at or around the same clip as every other teacher does. Some of this is due to retirement, but they also tend to leave for higher salaries and, yes, working conditions.

For more, read the rest here. Share. Like. Comment. Let Obama know, too. Thanks.

Mr. Vilson, who can’t believe he posted more than twice today.

{ 0 comments }

An Open Letter To The Present and Future President Obama [2012 and Beyond]

November 8, 2012 Jose

Dear President Obama, You’ve won. Congratulations. Honestly. As an independent, I had no initial horse in this race, but as a Afro-Latino, I’m proud that you’ve once again managed to claim the White House as yours, in a country where the bones, blood, and sweat of African slaves and Native Americans sit under the House […]

Read more →

Short Notes: You Don’t Have Any Bruce Lee Jokes, Either

October 28, 2012 Short Notes

A few notes: Pernille Ripp writes up a few lessons she’s learned that could inspire some blog posts. [Blogging Through The Fourth Dimension] Renee Moore gets a bit radical in her post on helping our most impoverished students. Do you have the courage? [EdWeek Teacher] Malala’s fine. Still fearless. Still awesome. [GOOD] Dana Goldstein calls […]

Read more →

Short Notes: “If This Is A Problem, Get The F**k Out Of The Classroom”

September 30, 2012 Short Notes

A few notes: Michael Doyle: “If you want to teach children, you have to know them. If this is a problem, get the f**k out of the classroom.” [Science teacher] Elianne Ramos (of LATISM fame) is nominated for Yahoo!’s “Women Who Shine.” Go vote. [Yahoo!] Big Daddy Kane joins Jay-Z at the Barclays Center. As […]

Read more →