It’s no shock to me that Black teachers are fleeing the field of education. We are treated horribly for many reasons. Reasons to include our advocacy for equitable outcomes for Black children.
Black teachers are a threat to the status quo. Black teachers who consciously work to fill academic gaps and challenge the flawed systemic tactics in education used to oppress Black children are publicly ridiculed and bullied by school and district leadership.
Black teachers, in most public school districts, go to work, don’t speak out, and do what is asked.
“Black teachers are more likely to want to stay in underperforming schools. And then once when they make a decision to leave a school, it’s oftentimes to leave the profession,” said Travis Bristol, an assistant professor of education at UC Berkeley.
Hostile school cultures against Black teachers can be seen across America in public schools This culture helped create the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, a scandal that negatively impacted Black students. This scandal also pushed out many Black teachers who were caught in the crossfire of the system used to pimp out Black children for resources and data for case studies still used today.
The nation saw Black teachers prosecuted and arrested while police officers killing Black people continued to walk free, case after case. Now we are battling a teacher shortage crisis in public school districts while also struggling to retain Black teachers as highlighted by Prism’s report.
Public school districts are struggling to retain Black teachers because they aren’t changing their practices to retain them.
The information in Prism’s report is good. However, as a Black teacher, I can tell you there are parts missing from the story. One is the fact that reports too often reflect the need to “save” Black students when in reality the system isn’t even educating Black students in equitable ways or quite frankly effectively.
We are so busy trying to fill the academic gaps created by poor school policies, leadership, and innovation that Black students are further behind each grade level. You cannot possibly continue to utilize the build the airplane while flying analogy with teaching and learning.
The reality is Black students who are being educated under this model aren’t thriving. They are being pushed along without being adequately prepared.
This attributes to a lot of why Black teachers are leaving the profession.
We cannot fix this until we 1). change state leadership in departments of education, 2) change state teacher preparation staff and programs, and 3) truly listen to Black teachers about what will help recover the academic gaps of Black students who are grade levels behind.
A start would be to pick up the mantle Brown vs Board of Education left us to do which is infusing a culturally inclusive curriculum in public schools. We need to offer successful pathways for all students so that graduation is a reality for every Black student in public schools.
Black teachers are tired of staying in a field, a system so willingly to fail and leave behind some many Black students.
Jason B. Allen is a Special Education Teacher in Clayton County, Georgia. He is a member of the Association of American Educators (AAE) and an AAE Foundation Advocacy Fellow.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.