OPINION | By Nehemiah D. Frank, Editor in Chief
To avoid racism is the reason why I choose to teach at a charter school instead of a traditional public school.
Not that the American society is proliferated by racist institutions where xenophobic teachers wait daily to either prey on or neglect tiny black minds in-order to prepare them for prison. No! That would make me conspiracists, right?
Though many Americans doubtlessly believe there’s a school-to-prison pipeline crisis, they’d rather place the blame and point fingers at working-class parents who are often burdened with multiple jobs.
More unfortunate, the missing accountability in inactions from those who have examined the data, listened to testimonials, and have self-implored the responsibility to the children. However, many of them have either intentionally or unintentionally ignored the core of the problems: implicit biases in education from the teachers to the curriculum, the considerable absence of male teachers, and the astronomical amount of missing people of color.
Furthermore, how can a homogeneously-white institution close an overdue racial achievement gap with the missing variables of male educators and people of color? Logic will always tell us, you need all of the ingredients to form a well produced and premium structure. Be that as it may, unfortunately, change can’t come soon enough when African-American students are disproportionately suspended at higher rates than their white counterparts (and I feel like I’m preaching to the choir every time I state that), and continue to perform in the double digits below white students.
Has anyone ever considered that white teachers are less-likely to suspend white students because their white pupils remind them personally of their, own, children and therefore show more compassion and mercy towards the “like” adolescent? Moreover, that it’s not a coincidence, the majority – if not all – of their neighbors and their neighbors’ children are white because they unconsciously practice de facto segregation? Henceforth, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that white teachers habitually attend to their white students more because they have been shaped by their, own, homogeneously white environments and therefore are naturally adept at teaching white children more efficiently. Furthermore, as result of their homogeneously shaped environment – since birth, it would be easy to neglect the foreigner, even a child, because connecting to any outsider is difficult for the reason of competence, cultural understanding, and the level of trust building that must take place before the development of working relationship.
When one looks at the data in academic performances, and suspension rates based on race and finds little to no improvement in the closing of the achievement gap since the desegregation of TPS, and when one looks at the missing people of color that aren’t represented in the public education system, especially African-American males, there is only one logical decision to be made – school reform.
Just to be clear, education reform doesn’t necessarily mean more charter and partnership schools. Nor doesn’t it mean a return to de facto or de jure segregation. Most of us educators understand that realistically community schools and charters can’t save the masses of African American children, but it can certainly ease the burden off of public schools while they try to figure out how to attract more African American teachers and educators of color. Sadly, many of public school district problems directly stem from the on going budget crisis schools at the state level.
We tend to see more African-American teachers along with culturally competent allies at partnership and charter schools. And it makes a difference in performance, graduation, and highers the chance of African-American students attending college.
Hence, choosing to teach at a charter wasn’t a difficult choice, but rather a logical one based on personal lived experiences and the current condition of our state and nations public education system.