Teachers play a very important role in American society. They educate young people, thus increasing the likelihood they become productive members of society. A good teacher can influence someone to be better than they ever thought they could become. However, it is important that kids see teachers that they can relate to and identify with. In the September/October 2016 issue of Mother Jones magazine, Kristina Rizga wrote about the decline of black teachers across the country and how that has detrimental effects on black children and their educational development.
One of the main causes for this unfortunate circumstance is a stream of closures of underperforming schools in low income areas. One determinate factor in which schools get closed is performance on standardized test. Another major factor leading to schools becoming low income is that not every school receives equal funding. Property taxes is a major source of funding and low income areas have very little resources to draw from.
There are several benefits to having more black teachers in the classroom. For one thing, teachers tend to be unionized which increases their likelihood of having a sustainable middle class lifestyle. Although subjective, having more black teachers in the classroom leads to more fairness. This article greatly documents that black teachers judge black kids less harshly; somewhat abating the school to prison pipeline, likely to put them in gifted classes when they have grades equal to their white peers, and most importantly believe the student is valuable to society. This great article discusses how alternative approaches to education can be beneficial to students. Instead of sorting students into categories they practiced a form of progressive education espoused by education advocate and early NAACP member John Dewey. He preached that students should learn by doing and becoming active participants instead of rote memorization. Students participate in activities such as student government, nursing, and anything that had a hands on approach. Most important of all schools had a culture of inclusion which makes learning much easier.
What happened to undermine much of the efforts of teachers is a lack of funding which lead to race as well as class problems. When school funding was cut the extracurricular activities were left in peril leading to inimical effects on childhood development. Without an outlet to express themselves creatively, the creative muscles atrophy, which is a loss to society. What has taken the place of creative local solutions is an emphasis on standardized testing and schools ran like a business. This is why it is so important for nonprofits like Making It to The Finish Line to help fill in the gap that schools have been unable to fill. The article that inspired this post is long and covers the situation extensively and we recommend that you check it out and pass the it along to everyone you know.
Rizga, K. (2016, September/October). Black teachers matter. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from http://www.motherjones.com