New Lessons for Our Classrooms

Improving the education of African American Students Will Require A Stronger Teacher Workforce. Here's What it Will Take?

Yet, Thomas is quick to assert that all the teachers at Wise, a 6-year-old school, named after the first practicing black physician in Prince George’s County, work just as hard as he does. This is why Thomas is defensive about the outpouring of negative sentiment toward teachers and teachers unions.

“I know teachers who are doing far more than what I’m doing. They’ve committed far more hours and seen far more progress in their students than I’ve seen,” says Thomas, a veteran teacher of 13 years. “What I’ve seen in the media are teachers who are putting their feet up, doing whatever, and not caring … that is not the norm. It is frustrating to see such stories, know it is not true, but I know that is the perception that the public has been given by the media.”

In Parts 1 and 2 of Black America’s Education Crisis, Black Enterprise focused on programs and strategies that federal, state, and local governments have enacted to improve K–12 public education as well as the philanthropic efforts of Bill Gates. The third part of our four-part series drills in on teachers and parents, and what they can do to improve the state of education for our children.

Do Teachers Unions Advance Education?
Three in four Americans have “trust and confidence in public school teachers,” but do not think much of teachers unions or the government when it comes to the current quality of education, according to the 43rd annual Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward their Public Schools.

Of those who think teachers unions are failing America’s students, Steve Perry, Ph.D., principal and founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, is probably the most vocal. Established in Hartford, Connecticut’s lowest performing district, accommodating a student population that was estimated to be 86% black and 70% low-income during the 2010–2011 school year, Capital Prep has since its inception in 2004 sent 100% of its graduates to four-year colleges.

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