A Conversation With Teacher of the Year Nate Bowling About the Experiences — and Importance — of Black Teachers
Black and ethnic minority teachers face 'invisible glass ceiling' in schools, report warns
This Black History Month, Ed Trust honors the rich legacy of Black excellence in the classroom: Black teachers.
When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board decision in 1954, there were 82,000 Black teachers. But in the following decade, the number of Black teachers in the United States dropped drastically. More than 38,000 Black teachers and administrators in 17 southern states lost their jobs due to the closing of all-Black schools and the unwillingness of newly segregated schools to hire Black educators. These were dedicated professionals who were committed to educating Black children. They poured into their Black students knowledge and principles. They saw in their students promise and unlimited potential and taught them to the highest levels they could. Today, we still have not recovered from this expulsion of Black educators from the classroom — a mere 7 percent of our nation’s teachers are Black.
As a part of Ed Trust’s ongoing work around teachers of color, the assets they bring to the classroom and the challenges they face, we sat down with longtime educator and former Washington State Teacher of The Year and Milken Award-winner Nate Bowling to hear his ideas about the challenges surrounding recruiting talented Black teachers, the experiences that drive too many talented Black teachers out of the field, and what it will take to ensure that America’s teaching workforce reflects its student body.
His Students Didn’t Think You Could Be Black and a Principal. He’s Proving Them Wrong.
Teachers from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (BME) face an “invisible glass ceiling” that limits them from being taken seriously for senior staff jobs, new figures suggest.
A questionnaire sent out to more than 1,000 BME teachers revealed concerns they were being given projects rooted in stereotypes rather than encouraged to take part in wider teaching roles.
Some also claimed bosses relied on stereotypes as an excuse to hand BME teachers classes with the “most challenging behaviour”.
A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem
Last year as he was preparing to open a new middle school in Rhode Island, Osvaldo Jose Martí worked as an administrator first at Blackstone Valley Prep’s existing middle school and then at one of their elementary schools. When the fourth-graders there made the move up to middle school, it would be to Martí’s new school.
The goal of embedding Martí in the elementary school from January until June: to ensure that both he and the fourth-graders who would become his inaugural class would be equally steeped in the culture of this young start-up charter network.
One moment stands out in Martí’s mind as a vivid reminder of the urgency of the work.
“On this particular day, I had spent the morning doing instructional rounds, popping into classrooms and providing feedback to our teachers,” he wrote later. “As I walked the halls I came upon a teacher with a second-grade scholar who was walking to their classroom.”
These States Are Leveraging Title II of ESSA to Modernize and Elevate the Teaching Profession
Having just earned a teaching degree from Pennsylvania’s Millersville University, Rian Reed set out in 2011 to find a position working with special-needs students. Born and raised in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, she had built an enviable academic record, earning induction into the National Honor Society in high school and speaking at her university commencement. She sought to use her leadership skills and creativity in a classroom in her own community. So Reed, a biracial woman who identifies as black, applied to work in her hometown school district.
“I thought I would serve as a role model for young female students of color, giving back to them more than what I had received,” she said. But according to Reed, the district didn’t even offer her an interview.
It’s Time for Schools to LEADright!
The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) provided states with newfound flexibility on accountability measures and school improvement strategies. Many policy experts have analyzed states’ ESSA plans, which explain how states use their federal funds under various provisions of the new law, as well as the approaches states take to identify and rate schools and improve their performance where needed.1 And while strong accountability frameworks and school improvement plans are critical for school and student success, ensuring that all students have access to excellent educators is just as important. In fact, ensuring that all students have access to well-prepared and supported teachers undergirds all other efforts to improve student outcomes. However, not much has been written on how states plan to leverage Title II, Part A of ESSA to strengthen their teacher pipelines.
The Center for American Progress has reviewed each state’s ESSA plan, searching specifically for state-led and state-supported programs that will be funded, at least in part, through Title II, Part A of ESSA—the section of the law that designates funding specifically for recruiting, preparing, and supporting teachers. And because this analysis is limited to initiatives under Title II, Part A, it is not an exhaustive list of states’ strategies to improve the educator workforce; rather this brief highlights a few noteworthy states that have proposed promising teacher pipeline initiatives that they are either starting or continuing with support from Title II, Part A of ESSA.
Consistent with the TeachStrong coalition’s ESSA guidance for state actors, these states are leveraging ESSA’s flexibility to support efforts around recruiting teachers of color; improving the teacher preparation experience; providing induction and mentoring to novice teachers; increasing teacher pay; and creating or encouraging career pathways, with the goal of ensuring that all students—and especially students in low-income schools—are taught by high-quality, prepared, meaningfully supported teachers.2 The author also notes what other initiatives and actions policymakers and advocates should watch for and consider as they work to modernize and elevate the teaching profession.
Strong Leadership for Tough Times: Former Board of Education Member Speaks Out
LEADright is an educational entity that coaches and trains leaders for excellence. LEADright works with individuals, organizations, and business. LEADright also provides professional learning and development for teachers, teacher-leaders, administrator, and boards. I have seen the work and benefits of LEADright in schools that I serve. This organization truly can help struggling schools turn around student achievement. LEADright supports educational leaders of struggling schools and districts in…
Reclaiming Our Time and Children! #OneAtlanta
Dr. Steven Lee, former Atlanta Board of Education, is the founder of the Unity Network and Counseling Center (UNCC). The 22-year-old non-profit organization is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Steven is planning to continue his work through the UNCC programs beginning January 2018 when his term on the school board comes to an end. These programs will be centered on college and career training for youth and young adults in Atlanta. Steven shares reflections on his tenure as a School Board member in Atlanta.
12 Years A Slave: My Experience in Public Education
On today, the City of Atlanta swore in the Municipal Court of Atlanta, The City Council of Atlanta, Council President Felicia Moore and the 60th Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. The previous run off election in December put Atlanta in headlines with the hashtag, #BlackGirlMagic, as the top leader of the city and the City Council President are both Black women. It also highlights the number of women who are taking on positions of power across the country. However, for the City of Atlanta, having a Mayor named “Keisha” has brought about some much-needed conversations regarding race, equity, diversity and education. During her inaugural speech, Mayor Bottoms started and ended with her support of education. “Great schools should not be an option just for the wealthy, but all who call Atlanta home”, words that were inspired by Mayor Bottoms’ travels around the city during the campaign talking with constituents regarding education. These three themes rang heavily throughout her speech making it clear that Atlanta will be reclaiming its time and children.
Seeking a new direction, this Memphis elementary school is turning to young black men for leadership
Over twelve years ago, I began my journey as an Educator in the City of Atlanta. I became an educator after being inspired from experiences with racism in college. I knew that politics was my desire, but education became my purpose. I believe that education is an effective way to change social dynamics. Stimulating the mind is best done through engagement. You cannot engage people when you don’t know who they are. Sitting at the University of West Georgia, Professor Said Sewellasked us during a political science lecture, “how many of you have had a Black male teacher from Pre K until now?”
When principal James Johnson walks the hallways of STAR Academy Charter School in Memphis, students frequently reach out to give him a fist bump or a high five.
Johnson revels in such impromptu connections. As the new principal, he has worked quickly to create a new kind of culture at the mostly African-American elementary school, where he and two other young black males serve as the top leaders.