Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Education Reform's Dirty Secret: Reformers Target Black And Brown Teachers For Replacement

Glenn Sullivan, a recent graduate from New Orleans’ Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, writes the following in the Washington Post:

In my school, as in many schools — especially in reform-oriented school districts — a lot of the good, black teachers have been replaced by younger white teachers. Before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, nearly 75 percent of the city’s public school teachers were black. That began to change after Katrina, when charter schools began to grow in number. The percentage of minority teachers across New Orleans public schools dropped from 60 percent to 54 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to data compiled by Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.

This troubles me. Particularly upsetting to me was the departure of the music teacher, a veteran black educator who helped run the New Tech school choir and put together trips for students.

When I talked to administrators about the departures of good black teachers, I was told that students need diversity in order to receive a high quality education. The school principal, who is black, has pointed out that a majority of the teachers are still black — a higher percentage than at some other New Orleans charter schools. He also pointed out that students are not always privy to the reasons teachers depart, and some might have chosen to leave.

Students do need diverse educational experiences, but that diversity doesn’t need to be about a teacher’s race. Hiring more white teachers is not the best way to improve education for students, particularly students of color.

In city after city, education reformers have gone after teachers of color and replaced them with young white people who work a couple of years, then head on to greener pastures.

Those in turn are replaced with more young white men and women.

New Orleans, a district that has been completely charterized, is one of the most egregious examples.

But there are a lot of others, including NYC, where the Bloomberg DOE made the teaching corps. a lot whiter than before they took power.

Next time you hear some jive ass education reformers link education reforms, particularly reforms that give districts the power to fire large numbers of teachers, to civil rights, remember that many districts are using these initiatives to fire lots of black and brown people.


  1. Teachers of color and students of color are disproportionately affected by Cami Anderson's One Newark plan.

  2. This is one of the most bizarre "unintended consequences" of education reform and does not receive nearly enough attention. Yes, diversity is important, but just as important are teachers as role models with whom the students can relate. In some areas, even more so.

    Several years ago, I participated in a one day Junior Achievement program in a public elementary school made up of black and Hispanic children. The children were a delight and the teacher was wonderful. But, the most clear memory of that day was the leader from Junior Achievement telling us to turn off our beepers and cell phones and make sure the children did not see them. This was in 1997 and at that time, according to the JA coordinator, the only people in these children's lives that were successful enough to have these were the neighborhood drug dealers.

    So, as in other article that came to my attention tonight, when a student says they need more teachers of color to relate to, I think it is wrong to judge that statement from outside of the students' perspective.

    1. I've seen five teachers targeted for removal in the past two years - four were of color.

      Reformers may say removing teachers of color is not their policy, but the reality is, that's what's happening. I've seen it myself.

  3. Be careful on anything coming from the Hechinger Report. It is heavily funded by the Gates Foundation.

    1. I know - that it's coming from them is interesting in and of itself.