EDUCATION: DIVERSITY DISPARITY

October 18, 2019 at 4:30 am

With Long Island’s minority student population at over 40%, why are only 8% of its educators people of color? We continue our examination of teacher diversity in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Aired on March 27 & October 17, 2019.

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>> LONG ISLAND'S PUBLIC SCHOOL
TEACHERS INCREASINGLY LOOK LESS
AND LESS LIKE THEIR STUDENTS.
THAT ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY
BY HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY THAT HAS
PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON THE LACK OF
MINORITY TEACHERS ACROSS NASSAU
AND SUFFOLK COUNTYS.
MINORITIES COMPRISED JUST 8% OF
THE REGION'S WORK FORCE,
TRAILING THE STATE AND THE
NATIONAL AVERAGES.
IN ONE OF MOST TROUBLING
FINDINGS, MORE THAN 60% OF
SCHOOLS DID NOT HAVE A SINGLE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN TEACHER, AND
MORE THAN 40% DID NOT HAVE ANY
LATINO TEACHERS.
PUT ANOTHER WAY, MORE THAN
212,000 STUDENTS OF ALL RACES
AND ETHNICITIES NEVER SAW A
BLACK INSTRUCTOR IN THEIR
SCHOOLS.
AND NEARLY 130,000 STUDENTS
NEVER HAD A LATINO TEACHER IN
THEIR BUILDING.
SO WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ADDRESS IT?
JOINING US NOW WITH ANSWERS TO
THESE QUESTIONS IS BRANDI SCOTT,
A FORMER ASSISTANT SCHOOL
SUPERINTENDENT IN NORTH BABYLON
AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE
LONG ISLAND BLACK EDUCATORS
ASSOCIATION, AN ORGANIZATION
WHICH PARTICIPATED IN THE STUDY.
BRANDI, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> HELLO.
THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME.
MY PLEASURE.
>> SO FIRST OF ALL, TELL US
ABOUT THE STUDY AND YOUR GROUP'S
INVOLVEMENT IN IT.
>> WELL, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY
DECIDED TO DO A STUDY ON
DIVERSITY A YEAR OR SO AGO.
THEY REACHED OUT TO THE LONG
ISLAND BLACK EDUCATORS
ASSOCIATION, ALSO THE LATINO
ASSOCIATION, TO HELP THEM IN THE
STUDY INSOFAR AS GATHERING
TEACHERS TO SPEAK TO THEM ABOUT
THEIR ROLES IN THE EDUCATIONAL
SYSTEM ON LOOILD AND ABOUT THEIR
-- ON LONG ISLAND AND ABOUT
THEIR EXPERIENCES.
ALSO HOFSTRA REACHED OUT TO NEW
YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
TO GATHER STATISTICS IN REGARDS
TO THE STUDY.
WE FIND THE STUDY WAS VERY
COMPELLING, AND AS ORGANIZATIONS
WE FOUND THAT THE STUDY VERIFIED
WHAT WE HAD KNOWN ALL ALONG.
AND THAT WAS THAT SEGREGATION
AND -- WAS A VERY REAL ISSUE IN
EDUCATION HERE ON LONG ISLAND.
>> SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE
SPECIFIC FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
THAT YOU FOUND PARTICULARLY
SIGNIFICANT?
>> I THINK THE MOST DISTURBING
FIGURE THAT WE FOUND WAS THAT
THERE WERE OVER 35% OF THE
BUILDINGS ON LONG ISLAND DID NOT
HAVE ANY TEACHERS OF COLOR.
WHETHER THEY WERE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN OR LATINO.
WE FOUND THAT VERY DISTURBING
BECAUSE THAT MEANT THOSE
STUDENTS WOULD NEVER HAVE
CONTACT WITH SOMEONE OTHER THAN
A WHITE TEACHER DURING THEIR
ENTIRE EDUCATIONAL CAREER, K
THROUGH 12.
>> NOW I ALSO -- CORRECT ME IF
I'M WRONG, BUT THE STUDY ALSO
FOUND THAT THE SHARE OF BLACK
TEACHERS WENT DOWN OVER THE LAST
DECADE FROM 3.4% TO 2.9%.
WHY?
>> THAT HAPPENED FOR MANY
REASONS.
FIRST OF ALL, MANY
AFRICAN-AMERICAN TEACHERS
DECIDED IN THE LAST DECADE OR SO
TO MOVE FROM THE CLASSROOM INTO
SUPERVISORY POSITIONS, ALSO INTO
ADMINISTRATION.
AND ALSO A LARGE NUMBER OF
TEACHERS DECIDED TO RETIRE IN
THE LAST 15 YEARS.
LSTLY, WE DID LOSE QUITE A FEW
TEACHERS TO OTHER CAREERS THAT
WERE PAYING BETTER.
>> SO A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION,
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO STUDENTS
OF COLOR OF HAVING TEACHERS THAT
DON'T LOOK -- THAT LOOK LIKE
THEM, AND WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO
WHITE STUDENTS OF HAVING
TEACHERS THAT DO NOT LOOK LIKE
THEM?
>> TEACHERS ARE ROLE MODELS.
AS A TEACHER YOU SPEND MORE TIME
WITH THAT STUDENT THAN THEIR
PARENTS.
YOU INFLUENCE THAT STUDENT NOT
JUST ACADEMICALLY BUT ALSO
SOCIALLY.
WE ALSO INFLUENCE THEM IN THAT
THEY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE
CONTACT WITH SOMEONE FROM
ANOTHER CULTURE OR ETHNIC GROUP.
THEREFORE, IT'S A BENEFIT TO NOT
JUST MINORITY STUDENTS BUT ALSO
NONWHITE STUDENTS TO HAVE A
TEACHER OF COLOR.
>> SO YOU KNOW, YOU'VE MENTIONED
IN THE PAST THAT MANY WHITE
TEACHERS NEVER HAD CONTACT WITH
TEACHERS OF COLOR DURING THEIR
OWN EDUCATION.
HOW DOES THAT IMPACT HOW THEY
TEACH A CLASS FULL OF MINORITY
STUDENTS?
>> WELL, LET'S LOOK AT IT THIS
WAY.
IF YOU HAVE GONE TO A SYSTEM K
THROUGH 12 OR YOU HAVE NOT SEEN
OR HAD THE PLEASURE OF HAVING A
MINORITY TEACHER, AND YOU MAY
EVEN GO TO COLLEGE, BY THE WAY,
AND NOT HAVE A PROFESSOR OF
COLOR AND THEN YOU COME INTO A
DISTRICT WHERE YOU HAVE TO
RELATE TO ALL STUDENTS, THOSE OF
COLOR AND WHITE STUDENTS, OFTEN
UNKNOWINGLY YOUR IMPLICIT BIASES
WILL INFLUENCE YOUR DECISIONS IN
THE CLASSROOM.
FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MIGHT TEACH A
LESSON ON SLAVERY FROM A
EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE.
OR FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MAY TAKE THE
BEHAVIOR OF A MINORITY MALE AS
BEING AGGRESSIVE WHEREAS A WHITE
MALE MIGHT HAVE DONE THE SAME
TYPE OF BEHAVIOR, BUT YOU MAY
NOT TAKE IT AS BEING AN ACT OF
AGGRESSION.
AND THAT MAY RESULT IN HAVING
THAT MINORITY MEAL SENT TO THE
PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE AND --
MINORITY MALE SENT TO THE
PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE AND
DISCIPLINED.
ALSO IT MAY AFFECT YOUR ABILITY
TO SHALL WE SAY LOOK AT THE
STUDENTS FAMILY WHEN IT COMES
THE TIME TO RECOMMEND FOR
ADVANCED PLACEMENT RECORDS.
YOUR EXPECTATIONS MAY NOT BE THE
SAME FOR A CHILD OF COLOR AS IT
WOULD BE FOR A NON-- FOR A WHITE
STUDENT.
>> SO WHAT SHOULD STOOD AND
SCHOOL BOARDS DO TO REVERSE THIS
REALITY?
TO CREATE MORE DIVERSITY AMONG
TEACHERS?
>> I THINK FIRST OF ALL THEY
NEED TO REACH OUT TO THE
COLLEGES THAT HAVE EDUCATION
PROGRAMS, AND THEY NEED TO WHILE
THE STUDENTS ARE IN THOSE
PROGRAMS, GIVE THEM
OPPORTUNITIES TO INTERNAL IN
THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- TO
INTERN IN THEIR SCHOOL
DISTRICTS.
I THINK ALSO SCHOOL BOARDS AND
DISTRICTS NEED TO REACH OUT TO
ORGANIZATIONS THAT ACTUALLY
MENTOR TEACHERS OF COLOR.
AND I THINK IT'S VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS
TODAY TO EMBRACE THE 2019 NEW
YORK STATE BOARD OF REGENTS
INITIATIVE CALLED CULTURALLY
RESPONSIVE SUSTAINING EDUCATION
THAT IS GOING TO SUPPORT THE
HIRING OF MINORITY TEACHERS AND
IS ALSO GOING TO GIVE FUNDS IN
2020 TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS SO THEY
CAN HAVE PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT FOR THE NEW TEACHERS
AND ALSO FOR THE EXISTING STAFF.
THAT'S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT
THEY EMBRACE THIS INITIATIVE.
>> THESE ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
AND SCHOOL BOARDS, BUT WHAT CAN
THE STATE, WHAT CAN THE STATE
DO, WHAT MORE CAN THEY DO TO TRY
TO RECRUIT MINORITY TEACHERS?
>> I THINK THE STATE NEEDS TO
LOOK TO AREAS SUCH AS NOT JUST
COLLEGES, THEY NEED TO LOOK TO
AREAS SUCH AS THE ARMED FORCES,
THE MILITARY, BECAUSE MANY YOUNG
PEOPLE ARE COMING UP IN THE
MILITARY, AND YOU CAN ENCOURAGE
THEM TO GO FROM THE MILITARY
INTO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS.
THEY CAN ALSO LOOK TO OTHER
STATES.
GO TO COLLEGES THAT ARE IN THE
SOUTH, COLLEGES THAT ARE IN THE
WEST.
THEY CAN ALSO LOOK TO OTHER
PROFESSIONS AND TRY TO ENCOURAGE
PEOPLE WHO MAY THINK ABOUT
SWITCHING CAREERS TO COME INTO
TEACHING.
>> ALL RIGHT.
BRANDI, THOSE ARE GOOD
SUGGESTIONS.
I HOPE THE STATE IS LISTENING.
THANK YOU SO MUCH --
>> I HOPE SO, TOO.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING
US.
>> I DO HOPE THEY'RE LISTENING.
MY PLEASURE.
THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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