The Segregation of U.S. Teachers
Segregation within the U.S. teaching force mirrors the growing segregation among K–12 students in public schools, with disturbing implications for dismantling structures of inequality, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
The racial divide between public school students and teachers is no secret—students of color comprise about 42 per- cent of public school students, while approximately 90 percent of teachers are white. Even within those constraints, how- ever, the segregation of teachers is worse than it need be.
The report, “The Segregation of American Teachers,” notes that in many overwhelmingly white schools there are few or no teachers of color. What’s more, the average white teacher has had little
exposure to racial diversity in their own schooling, training, or current teaching position.
“Not only did white teachers, on average, attend schools when they were elementary school students that were over 90 per- cent white, they are currently teaching in schools where almost 90 percent of their faculty colleagues are white and over 70 percent of students are white,” according to a press release from the Civil Rights Project.
The average white teacher is in a more affluent school with fewer English language learners and with higher teacher stability and more adequate resources. Teachers of color, meanwhile, tend to be in schools with more low-income students, higher teacher turnover, and a greater likelihood of facing sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
“The findings make clear that there is a need for policies focused on diversifying the teaching force and ensuring that schools serving students of all backgrounds have a racially integrated, highly qualified faculty,” according to the press release.
The study also highlights regional differences. The South has the most overall integrated teaching force and the North- east and Midwest have the most segregated. The West, meanwhile, where the majority of students are non-white and many are Latino, is the only region with a sizeable percentage (11 percent) of Latino teachers.
The report, based on an extensive survey of more than 1,000 teachers, was developed in collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Utah Passes Universal Vouchers
Utah has passed a school voucher program that marks a significant step in the conservative goal of a universal voucher program open to all, even the very rich.
The Utah bill, signed by Gov. Jon Huntsman on Feb. 26, pro- vides between $500 and $3,000 in taxpayer dollars, per child, for tuition at a private school.
To date, conservatives have focused their efforts on limited voucher programs, as part of a strategy to win support in the African-American community and among those who do not want to abandon public education. Existing programs in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and Cleveland, for instance, are targeted at poor families.
Urban Workshops to Be ‘Race-Neutral’
Following a federal lawsuit filed by a white student, the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund will not consider race in selecting students for its urban journalism workshops for high school students.
The Fund is a nonprofit affiliated with the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Since the 1960s, it has operated urban journalism workshops in dozens of cities that exclusively enrolled students of color.
Privately Managed Schools No Better
Students in privately managed public schools in Philadelphia did no better academically than students in traditional public schools, even though they got more money, according to a recent report by the RAND Corporation and Research for Action.
Philadelphia has seven different private managers of public schools, including the for- profit Edison Schools and local nonprofits and universities.
The report, released Feb. 1, found that “private managers who were given extra funds to run 45 elementary and middle schools did not achieve additional gains exceeding districtwide trends.”
Murray Strikes Again
Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, is now arguing that socioeconomic interventions to lower the achievement gap between blacks and whites are likely to fail.
“It is true that environment can have a huge effect,” Murray said at a Nov. 28 forum at the American Enterprise Institute. “But once you get to nearly an adequate environment, you’ve probably got most of what you’re going to get from environmental issues.”
The Bell Curve, published to a firestorm of protest in 1994, argued that blacks are genetically incapable of performing at the same intellectual levels as whites.