The achievement gap is the civil rights issue of our time—which is why it may be necessary for us to destroy a large part of the Black middle class in order to achieve our goal of closing said gap.
During the Chicago Teachers Union strike I encountered a stunning statistic. Since education reform arrived in Chicago, African Americans have dropped from 45% of the teaching force to just 19%. But how can that be? you must be wondering. Arne Duncan LUVS Black people. Alas reader, while the schools slated for closure, turnaround or charterization have had a significant percentage of African American teachers, the ones replacing them rarely do. But at least Chicago has made great strides in closing the achievement gap…
Chicago is not the only place where Education Reform, Inc. is quickly reshaping the teaching force into one that is fresher and more innovative younger and whiter. In urban areas across the country, middle-aged, middle class African American teachers are being pushed out to make room for the flavor of the day: vanilla.
In Boston a charter school will very likely take over Marshall Elementary, one of the city’s largest. Thirty two percent of teachers at the Marshall are African American vs just 14% of teachers at the charter, UP Academy. More striking still, not a single teacher at UP is over the age of 40. Reader: I feel old just typing those words so I can only imagine how you must feel reading them—old, old, old, and whatever the opposite of “fresh” and “innovative” is. You may be forgiven for uncorking your wine box just a bit early today.
As for Massachusetts’ other charters-on-the-move, the mini empires of excellence and innovation that are aggressively expanding through the state’s urban areas, their teaching staffs are incredibly young and overwhelmingly white, even as the students they teach are almost exclusively African American and Hispanic.
- Edward Brooke Charter, which is now seeking to open its 4th school in Boston, has just two African American teachers at its flagship school, out of a staff of 58. And 97% of its teachers are under the age of 40.
- MATCH, which operates a high school, middle school and a “No Excuses” charter teacher training program, wants to open an additional middle school in Boston. Of the 141 teachers at MATCH Charter High School, 14% are African American, while 81% of teachers are under the age of 26.
- At City on a Hill Charter, which wants to expand into Southeastern Massachusetts, 7 out of 64 teachers are African American, while 86% of teachers are under the age of 32.
- For-profit operator Sabis, which is trying for the third time to open a charter high school in Brockton, has just 3 African American teachers out of a staff of 124 at its International High School in Springfield.
- Pioneer Charter School of Science, which wants to open two new schools in communities with large populations of Latino immigrants, has an overwhelmingly white teaching staff. Three of its 36 teachers are African American, while .2 is Hispanic. And 73% of teachers are under the age of 32.
Reader: in honor of this astonishing data I am suggesting that you enjoy a young Merlot, perhaps the whitest of all wines. Join me in toasting to freshness and innovation because there certainly seems to be a lot of it these days.
Send comments or questions to email@example.com.