Why Chicago’s Public Schools Are Losing Black Teachers

One teacher has her suspicions

 

 

 

 

(Image: Education Post)

 

 

This post was written by Marilyn Rhames and originally appeared at EducationPost.org. It is reprinted here with permission. For more about the author, scroll down to the end of the post.

Chicago’s WBEZ radio recently ran a story titled, Why Are There Fewer Black Teachers in CPS? I’ve taught in Chicago Public Schools for the past 11 years, and in the past five, I’ve found myself increasingly asking that same question.

The percentage of black teachers has fallen from 40% in 2000 to 23% today, according to WBEZ. In fact, in the last decade the number of schools with fewer than 10% of black teachers on staff jumped from 69 to 223—50 with no black teachers at all, according to the story.

[Related: Black Lives Matter in School, Too]

I have three suspicions about the CPS “blackout.”

Suspicion #1: Black teachers are being pushed out.

The Chicago Teachers Union tried to highlight this phenomenon in 2011, when a disproportionate number of African-American teachers received pink slips in a district-wide layoff—they represented 30% of district teachers, but 43% of the CPS teachers laid off.

When my black principal fired me after giving me an unjust teacher evaluation in 2008, I knew race had played a role. In the two years I had worked at the school, only black teachers were fired or disciplined. Meanwhile, I watched performance problems with my young, white colleagues go unaddressed as they struggled to control their classrooms.

My third-grade class was orderly and engaged, but I also wasn’t shy about voicing concerns about school policy and holding administrators accountable. My white colleagues privately shared the same concerns with me, but they remained silent in staff meetings, too afraid to speak up.

When I got fired I was ready to quit teaching forever, until I met an inspiring charter school principal who gave me the professional respect I deserved.

Suspicion #2: It’s harder for black teachers to get hired.

Back in 2011, when I was halfway through my Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship, I distinctly remember a teacher in my cohort saying that her African American principal had implemented a “black hiring freeze.” Her principal had told her she wanted more young, white teachers because they were more passive.

It reminded me what I had gone through in 2008, but the “black hiring freeze” comment also made me think of my bright and talented African American teacher friends who struggled to get hired.

It’s not always flagrant discrimination. Some school leaders genuinely want to hire more black teachers, but they are prone to scrutinizing black candidates more harshly.

One time a white principal candidly told me how desperately she wanted to hire a qualified black teacher. She even went to a job fair at Chicago State University, which has a teaching program comprising predominantly black students. She did end up hiring a teacher from the fair, but he was white.

Continue reading on the next page…

Pages: 1 2

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • the beast

    This is going on throughout America. It’s sad our own are in charge but they come down on us to make themselves fit in.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

    • Amy

      Or maybe there’s a problem with how we are currently defining “exceptional” if the “best” teachers are turning out to be white. For example, the author notes

      • Amy

        (continued..) the author notes an encounter in which she was told about a preference for more white (passive) teachers.

      • vernakitson

        I get that. I’m the one who introduced the “exceptional” because i think that the bigger issue is actually about quality of teachers. The best teachers are not white, but when you set up a situation where the black teachers are not the ones with the latest credentials and know-how, and the white teachers, straight out of college and graduate school, do, even if they don’t know totally how to use all that they know, then you have a problem. So, focusing on race alone doesn’t quite get at what’s going on.

        If the majority of teachers in the school system are white, then dismissing the mediocre people will mean that both black and white teachers will go. But there will still be an imbalance. So the problem is only going to be fixed by bringing in more black teachers, and more black teachers who are wiling to do extraordinary things. There are plenty of mediocre teachers are in the schools, white and otherwise. They need to go. But I’m never going to support keeping anybody mediocre, just so it won’t look a certain way.

        • RAIDERFANXXX

          black schools should have all the black teachers. I guarantee you that no sane white teacher wants to teach in those schools.
          let the blacks have all those jobs and they are welcome to them.

          • vernakitson

            Really now. Thanks for unfurling your confederate flag in this post. You can go away now.

          • RAIDERFANXXX

            truth hurts. it is just a fact. not even black teacher want to work in those violent neighborhoods.

          • vernakitson

            “Truth” and “facts” according to your anti-black racist attitudes, sure. You’re starting to repeat yourself as well.

          • RAIDERFANXXX

            how am I anti black? whenever someone points out the truth to you people, you automatically start calling them racist instead of disputing the facts presented. you people are the true racist.

          • vernakitson

            “you people”? Nice. Go away, please.

          • RAIDERFANXXX

            and another butt hurt one of those people.

      • vernakitson

        I get that. I’m the one who introduced the “exceptional” because i think that the bigger issue is actually about quality of teachers. The best teachers are not white, but when you set up a situation where the black teachers are not the ones with the latest credentials and know-how, and the white teachers, straight out of college and graduate school, do, even if they don’t know totally how to use all that they know, then you have a problem. So, focusing on race alone doesn’t quite get at what’s going on.

        If the majority of teachers in the school system are white, then dismissing the mediocre people will mean that both black and white teachers will go. But there will still be an imbalance. So the problem is only going to be fixed by bringing in more black teachers, and more black teachers who are wiling to do extraordinary things. There are plenty of mediocre teachers are in the schools, white and otherwise. They need to go. But I’m never going to support keeping anybody mediocre, just so it won’t look a certain way.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • vernakitson

    Unfortunately, exceptional black teachers are not that common. The schools need more of those so the training systems need to produce more. Being black is an asset for teaching black children but thats not enough, not in chicago. the kids deserve better.

  • Pingback: Are Black Teachers Being Intentionally Pushed Out Of Chicago Public Schools? | Kulture Kritic()

  • Edward Iannone

    It sounds just a bit like white teachers are “frightened” to discipline “too harshly” for fear of racial backlash. Just wondering.

  • RAIDERFANXXX

    or maybe, just maybe they don’t want to teach in bad black neighborhoods. just like black police officers don’t want to patrol in violent black neighborhoods. they transfer out just as soon as they can.

  • Pingback: Why Are We Losing Black Teachers? | BlackPride.in()