White Teachers Go Home
When I sat down at the computer to write today’s blog, I was at a loss. There was absolutely nothing I could think of to write about.
Then I saw Jerrold H. Jensen’s op-ed in the local paper. It reads, in part:
Does race matter in teaching? I don’t know. But every one of us can probably identify teachers who were role models for us — the odds are they looked and sounded a lot like us, too. Not doubt many teachers can inspire the children of immigrants, but perhaps we don’t have enough of them. Perhaps what we really need are more teachers who were, themselves, children of immigrants, who can relate to and motivate the kids we are losing.
To idly bring race into the equation without offering a workable equalizer is to be just another kind of bigot. Though common racial or cultural ground may help students, good teachers also have to have some amount of content knowledge.
It’s all well and good to say that having ethnically diverse teachers should be a goal for the school district — as there are, in fact, stated practical benefits — but how would you enforce such a policy if, as Jensen assumes, “children of immigrants” aren’t graduating high school and are the principle reason the district’s dropout rate is so high?
After all, if “children of immigrants” aren’t graduating high school, how are we going to get them to become teachers? To get your credential, you need at least a bachelor’s degree and therefore also your high school diploma.
Our first solution to getting more “children of immigrants” through high school can’t be getting more “children of immigrants” through high school. There are plenty of policies that could help our students. The ones inspired by circular reasoning shouldn’t be our first choice.
Maybe I’m just reacting to the headline some well-meaning copy/layout editor tacked on: “Diverse students need diverse teachers.” To be fair, he does have a worthwhile suggestion tucked in the middle of his racial observations and it involves breaking the school district into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Sounds good to me. Let’s try that.