Monday, April 28, 2014

"Diversity low in educator courses at Mass. colleges": That's Surprising???

So already, this morning's Boston Globe front page* features an article about the low numbers of nonwhite students enrolled in college courses and programs that could prepare them to become teachers.  The article is juxtaposed to articles about the canonization of two popes and the problem of drugs-for-gun trades in New England. The italicized sub-title "response" to the "news" presented by the article's title is State encourages more nonwhites to become teachers.

Is "encourage" the best the state can do?  How about "help" or "support"?

After offering several paragraphs about initiatives that focus on "recruitment and admissions policies" being undertaken to diversify the developing teacher force, the article lays out possible reasons for the under-representation of racial minorities.  

The article initially suggests that the biggest impediments to building a more diverse teaching force are perceptions of and attitudes toward the teaching profession itself and education's general commitment to diversity. From Mitchell Chester, state commissioner of elementary and secondary education, we hear that "Our society, unfortunately, doesn't hold teachers in high esteem." Then we hear the arguments for and against the importance of the teaching force's being racially diverse: while some educators insist on the power and value of students' being taught by teachers with whom they can identify and to whose achievements and values they can aspire, other educators hold that "top-notch teaching . . . trumps other factors."

"Top-Notch Teaching"
So what leads to "top-notch teaching," and can we say that the teacher education courses and programs in which we want nonwhite college students to enroll can produce it? Can produce it single-handedly? In my book, top-notch teaching is the result of a combination of the following factors, at least:
  • knowing one's content well--and continuing to deepen and expand that content knowledge;
  • becoming instructionally skillful--and continuing to develop one's repertoire of instructional skills and ability to use those skills in the "right" instructional contexts;
  • becoming skillful in terms of assessing students' knowledge, learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, understandings--and in terms of using that information to support the learning of students as individuals and in groups;
  • being skillful at knowing and working with students as learners and people, and at working with parents, supervisors, colleagues, and students themselves to help those students achieve their learning potentials, pursue/reach their achievement goals, and develop the confidence associated with authentic learning and achievement;
  • being part of an educational organization that provides the time and space to take advantage of and contribute to colleagues' skill and knowledge--and to be a genuine community in spirit and practice.
Even excellent teacher prep courses and programs do not alone suffice to prepare beginning teachers for "top-notchness" as defined by these bullets. It takes a village to support a young teacher to become a "top-notch" teacher over multiple years' time, whether the teacher is working with students who resist learning or students who embrace it with anxious fervor, whether the teacher is attempting to engage more with parents whose greater involvement in their children's school lives could prove beneficial--or to engage less with parents whose lesser involvement in their children's school lives could prove beneficial. Simply put, we cannot expect newly minted teachers to be "all set" upon their graduation from college, or even graduate school, teacher education programs.

But this article talks about college programs -- and this is where we need to be really honest about who gets hired to teach in most Greater Boston schools. As the person who ran the New Teacher Induction Program at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School for many years, I can say that most of our new teachers, the majority of whom have been white and female, came to us with one or more of the following:  a master's degree in education or the academic field in which they were teaching, several years of teaching experience in another secondary school, multiple years of teaching experience in a college, and/or multiyear experience in another profession or in the arts.  Very tough competition for a teaching candidate with no teaching experience and a college degree only--unless a district is truly dedicated to supporting and bringing along a new teacher who oozes potential for continued learning and passion for teaching in the public school setting.

The Financial Challenges of Teaching
But supporting and bringing along can't consist solely of mentoring and encouraging:  that's simply not enough, especially for newly minted teachers who are graduating from college with loans to repay and who are entering Massachusetts public schools. For MA teachers, there is the expectation that they will earn a master's degree or the equivalent to advance from Preliminary to Initial licensure and/or from Initial to Professional licensure, according to guidelines set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Such programs always have some cost.

Considerations of the economic situations and working-life realities of early-career teachers, especially early-career teachers in Massachusetts, are not considered in the article. While perceptions of value are almost always tied to economics in the U.S.A., the principal economic problems faced by those who choose to become teachers are not problems of status, whether the teachers are white or nonwhite. Most teachers I know chose the profession because they wanted to help kids and thought they'd enjoy doing so, not because they wanted to be admired.  That said, they all appreciate being respected and don't always feel respected.

I also want to be clear here that I am making some assumptions here, for the sake of this blog post. There are no doubt African-American, Asian, and Hispanic college students who, because of scholarships and/or familial wealth, graduate from college without student loans and who can anticipate graduate study that will not put them into significant educational debt. I am choosing to focus here on nonwhite college graduates (by the way, I could be saying the same things about a significant number of white college graduates) who anticipate paying off loans for college, graduate school, or both for a number of years--and certainly while their salaries are relatively low. Given more general data about the economic categories in which racial and ethnic groups generally fit in America, I am also surmising--but without any proof--that African-American and Hispanic college graduates may be disproportionately represented among Americans needing to pay back college loans.**

So let's look at Cambridge, located so near to so many institutions that educate aspiring and practicing teachers. Yes, it's true that the Cambridge Public Schools has a Tuition Reimbursement Program, that the Harvard University Extension School offers some scholarships to public school teachers enrolling in courses, and that many online and face-to-face graduate programs are competing for educators in terms of the affordability and convenience of the programs they offer. But when one considers the cost of living in the Greater Boston area, even the economic support such programs offer does not significantly offset the loan-related financial burdens young teachers walk through the door shouldering. As one of this year's new teachers, a transplant from Texas, told me as we were talking about master's programs to which she might apply, "Teachers generally don't need master's degrees in Texas"--which means they don't have to pay for them.

But it's not just loan debt that makes prospective teachers wonder if they can afford to choose teaching as a profession. With or without loans, economically independent younger teachers wonder how far from Boston and Cambridge they will need to live if they wish to own homes of their own.  As one transplant from another state asked me a few years ago, "Will I have no choice but to live with roommates when I'm forty-five?" Even yesterday, a Facebook Cambridge-educator colleague who came to CRLS six or seven years ago, now the father of two, posted a comment about how discouraged he was by his recent forays into the housing market. Other teachers have come to discuss whether they would have to downsize the families they planned to have, based on their experiences of providing for the needs of one child.

Interestingly, while I was reading  the Boston Globe article today, I was simultaneously listening to an NPR/WGBH "On Campus" feature about Parent-Plus Student Loans. It incorporated the story of a proud mother who gladly incurred more than $130,000 in debt to finance the educations of her two sons--and who expects to work hard forever to pay back the money she borrowed. Despite her pride, responsibility, and dedication, it's definitely not a story of planning for her own post-employment future at any point.

As a middle-class white person who entered the teaching force in a very different economic time with a good education and a master's degree in tow, with manageable education debt to repay, and with parents who helped me out when I needed to buy my first car and my first condominium--and did so without subjecting themselves to great economic pressure or hardship, I have been economically and educationally privileged. But at the same time my parents were in the "safety cushion" background of my life as a young educator, I became aware that a number of my colleagues, both white and nonwhite, regularly sent money to their parents and one or more of their siblings. As we look at today's prospective teachers, are we considering the economic responsibilities they both have and anticipate having as members of existing families, creators of their own families, aspirants to professional-level education licenses, and aspirants to Greater Boston home ownership?  

All the encouragement and recruitment in the world won't foot the bill for these needs and aspirations, as humble and reasonable as they are.

So What's Really Possible? 
Interestingly, the Globe article ends with descriptions of two programs that offer hope--and ideas that other institutions might learn from. Worcester State University's Latino Education Institute pays students $1000--not a lot, but something "in recognition that many students are struggling to pay for college." And the last paragraph mentions "alternative teacher preparation programs, such as Teach for America and the Boston Teacher Residency program, which have enrollments of people of color of 29 percent and 46 percent respectively." Given the uneven quality and the inadequate post-prep-program support of some Teach for America preparation programs, as well as the significant number of Teach for America program participants who leave teaching quickly, either for other professions or for educational roles outside of the classroom (as reported in the May 2012 issue of the ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine), I am not enthusiastic about Teach for America as the solution to a problem of teaching force diversity.

But if programs like the Boston Teacher Residency program can train teachers while attending to their needs for affordability and can provide intense mentoring and authentic collaboration experience in classrooms during the program year, that seems like a good beginning.  That said, I place a lot of emphasis on the word "beginning"--because good teachers aren't created in a single year. 

Or even in five years, in my experience. Speaking personally, I would say it took me eight years to become a really good teacher, and that was in a climate and school where there was adequate time and collegial contact to help me grow. 

I worry about the kind of support that developing teachers get at schools that are emphasizing communication with parents over communication with students and that are eliminating programs that connect those still-learning teachers with teacher-coaches who have developed skills and tools for helping them to address the needs and challenges that they themselves identify: simply putting teachers together in groups does not guarantee the kind of teacher support that skilled coaches can responsively and effectively provide. In the absence of such programs, I am excited about Massachusetts' having received one of the National Education Association's (NEA's) Great Public Schools Fund grants that can support the development of programs that support teachers to become "top-notch" with the help of colleagues with whom they work every day. If such programs can offer opportunities for growth for both the supported and the supporting educators, gains in professional status, financial rewards, faculty morale-boosting, and authentic connection among colleagues, we may have a shot at attracting and keeping more nonwhite teachers.***

The more we can recognize that the diversifying of the Massachusetts teacher force depends on one or more of the following--
  • financial support and incentives; 
  • post-collegiate educational support and incentives; 
  • school-based professional support and incentives; 
  • schools' and districts' active (vs. philosophical) commitment to the idea that top-notch teachers must and can only develop over time; and
  • schools' and districts' active (vs. philosophical) commitment not just to diversity as a demographic reality, but to understanding the experiences of, and supporting, their nonwhite students and staff members
--the sooner we have a chance successfully recruiting into college education programs and courses nonwhite college students who may already be stretched financially. 

Why not go for what we really need--a cadre of nonwhite "top-notch" teachers? We really could achieve this. But encouraging and recruiting in the absence of addressing economic, professional, and cultural factors won't suffice.

* Screen shot from <>
** I wish I knew how to interpret the Asian data economically:  I don't know in which economic categories Asians are proportionately or disproportionately represented.
*** I believe we need to think about the particular kinds of connections and supports nonwhite teachers might need or want as members of faculties that are predominantly white.


  1. Fantastic blog. You should be involved in bettering education here in Mass. Your expertise is greatly needed.

  2. Excellent explication, commentary, and analysis, Joan!


  3. Love it. You write cogently about the economic realities of teachers and all young professionals. So much free labor is gotten from 'internships' in the top industries during this economic recovery. Shameful. Thank you for your emphasis on the time it takes to develop mastery (ten years or Gladwell's 10,000 hours) flies in the face of our quarterly profit motive, never mind 12 year investment in a child's education.
    Could you address the fact that the education and psychology departments are often the most conservative spots on a college campus? I wonder how this affects the perspective of people of color. One of the goals of public education is to create conforming citizens (daily Pledge of Allegiance), and the definition of 'conservative' means to maintain the status quo. If one is not doing well under current cultural conditions, perhaps one looks away from the institutions that socialize us to accept the current 'classism' that we in American insist on obscuring and excusing as 'racism'. I would be interested in your thoughts on this aspect. Thank you for your blog.

    1. Hi, Nancy --

      Your comments about the conservatism of colleges' education and psychology departments is something I haven't thought about at all. Do you think that's in part because both fields are under fire by financial pressures that favor quick, standardized fixes (medications vs. therapy over time)?

      I want to think some more about the messages of conservatism to people of color. What kinds of conformity do you think are being most nurtured? You do have me thinking a lot about the graduates of teacher preparation programs who felt unprepared by those programs--so it's interesting to think of what they learned that they viewed as irrelevant, useless, or downright harmful. Would love to talk about this with you, since I need some education here.

    2. Sorry about the subject-verb disagreement in my first sentence!

  4. You clearly define the difference between semantics and "some antics". The "WHY" in teaching (coming from a part-time basketball teacher) doesn't come from WHAT but for WHOM. In basketball, we have a saying "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." The hyperbolic 'greatness' begins with character and competence, extends with process and performance, and matures with passion and simplicity.

    Great teaching is about sharing, and your point about connecting with students must take primacy over connecting with parents. Your point about housing costs applies as much to young physicians as to teachers. Promising young doctors train here and leave in droves for economically friendly climates with affordable housing.

    In an era where some taxpayers see public employees not as public servants but unionized takers, and affirmative action gets rolled back, I wonder how aspiring nonwhite teachers can hurdle these barriers.

    1. What a week it's been for race-related issues in this country! So I share your worry about aspiring nonwhite teachers' challenges, especially given how generally "in trouble" the profession is--which means it's generating expressions of contempt and blame, followed by institutional responses that humiliate educators and make their workday efforts less classroom- and student-focused than ever.

      Howard Gardner talks a great deal about the problems that result when there's misalignment between the practice of, and the professed purposes and values of a profession. In education right now, there's a lot of talk about the importance of relationships -- you hear "Rigor, relevance, and relationships" a lot -- but I've often felt that what I thought constituted "relationships" with kids and what some of my supervisors saw as constituting "relationships" with kids were very different ideas. It's not a relationship just because I'm talking one-on-one with a kid.

      Your comments and those of others reading and responding have me thinking about the way all of this talk is framed. For example, how can we make sure that our efforts to connect with students are more for the sake of students than for the sake of needing to provide evidence that we're connecting with students to our supervisor/evaluators? I think our "real" purposes and worries shape how we do this work, and kids can feel when they're pawns in a system being implemented by fearful teachers and fearful administrators.

  5. Hi Joan,
    The above is from me, Nancy Hilliard. I thought my full name would show up.
    Happy Spring,

    1. I guessed it was you, Nancy, but thanks for making sure I knew! Happy May 1!

  6. So already, Joan, I think we in Massachusetts can learn from the examples of places like Finland or the state of Victoria, Australia. These entities -- while racially less diverse than the U.S. are nonetheless similar in terms of economic diversity. They have invested holistically in growing great educators as well as a great public education system. Specifically, they've made teacher education programs rigorous, competitive --- and free -- and they pay teachers from the start a living wage. While the new teachers are learning and honing their craft, they are doing so in a school environment that affords them a kinder schedule, with time built in to their days and weeks to work with experienced teachers and reflect on their own practice. While there are in place standards for student learning, there are almost no standardized tests to measure this learning....
    As a country, I am not sure we could manage this. But as a state, or even as a city, I think Massachusetts -- and/or Cambridge and Boston -- have the resources (financial and human) and above all the imagination to create something like what Finland has done. BTR is a good start. Yet, as you point out, when the residency ends, the support should not. If I were in charge of the world, CRLS (for example) would view itself much the way a teaching hospital does: founded on the expectation that professional learning never ends and providing ongoing, highly valued ways for teachers to become top-notch by working with their colleagues as they work with students.
    And starting salary would have to be higher. (It took me 10+ years -- with a Master's and manageable student debt -- not to live paycheck to paycheck.)
    Thanks for writing.

    1. Hi, Linda -- Love your teaching hospital analogy! Given that you've worked in both Boston and Cambridge and are a "Cambridge parent," just wondering what your thoughts are about why Boston and Cambridge schools haven't become "teaching hospitals," especially given the crazy number of teacher-training institutions we have surrounding us. Or maybe that's part of the problem????

    2. Or does Cambridge's financial "great shape" make us too apt to feel little or no need to partner with other institutions that have their own ideas about what could work?

  7. Joan,

    I agree with all your points, so let's skip that part and get to the criticism.

    To be a rabble-rouser and organize for action, you'll need to boil it down to 30 words or less. Or thereabouts. Slogan stuff.

    This is tricky because an essential point is more $$ for teachers, and a lot of people will turn off their ears as soon as they hear that part. So you have to turn your message away from data points and analysis, and more to story. Generally, morality tales work best.

    From the outside, it looks to me like this. In the 1950s and 1960s there was a golden age of teaching because women were not allowed in the professions. Talented women had nowhere to go except teaching.

    By the 1970s, only middling students went to teacher's college. In our area, Westfield State was viewed as the place to go to become a teacher. In a class of 100, only kids ranked maybe 65 or below applied to Westfield State.

    Teaching became like a post office job. Not great pay, but benefits and you could generally hang on to the iron ricebowl for life. Do the time. Wait for retirement.

    Because the tax base is local property taxes, people scrutinize all local expenditures (at least in small towns) with a microscope. (I vividly remember a fire chief whining fervently with tears in his eyes for funding for a new fire truck in the early 1970s.) Teacher salaries get such scrutiny. Much more personal than other budget issues partly because of the local tax base and partly because some of the taxpayers know the teachers.

    Some good teachers, some bad teachers, but all with an iron ricebowl, and it attracts resentment from people who are struggling financially, or who view public schools as hotbeds of sedition pushing evolution, etc.

    The rightwing organizes around resentment, generally, and fables about sedition in the public schools, in particular. Rightwing attacks unions generally, and teacher unions in particular.

    1. The ideology of individualism and low taxes (tinged with racism and xenophobia) in the early 1980s promised economic expansion, and was ready to flame out by the late 1980s but got rescued by the bubble economy of the 1990s. Clinton seemed to endorse the basic premises with his "age of big government is dead" crap, his promotion of Wall Street deregulation. GWB and Greenspan and Baucus delivered the tax cut of 2001 (wiping out social security surpluses from payroll tax increase of 1986) and the Iraq War and Afghanistan War debts, which, together with the rubble of the Wall Street credit collapse of 2008, provided the depression which now serves as the backdrop for the propaganda of austerity.

      Instead of kill all the bankers, the mantra is kill all the unions and pensioners. Nimble. Crazy, but the audience for this message has been husbanded by well-funded propaganda for decades.

      Teachers are the scapegoats.

      Not by chance. Not by a failure to recognize the subtle realities of teacher training and accomplishment. But by purpose.

      What is to be done?

      You must answer with your own purpose. And it must be the purpose of the people -- not the purpose of good teaching -- that you must answer with.

      The public does not give a rat's ass about good teaching.

      The public cares about its kids.

      You need a compelling message about how good teaching and better schools will help their kids.

      That has to be the lead.

      Second, how to make the schools better. With a simple, common sense explanation easily accessible to the general public.

      Not sure what that should be. But I have a few ideas.

      First, get the funding away from the local level. State funding probably best.

      Second, get talented people (white, black or green) interested in being teachers. Forgive all college and graduate school debt for 3 years of teaching. Free further course work in education, or training sessions. Higher salaries that escalate sharply in the early years if certain milestones are obtained.

      I think Linda's post had some great ideas for models. Models are good. Track records are good.

      Third, make schools the center of community activities.

      Continuing education, theater, sports, etc.

      As long as education is cut off from community life, it is easy to make "them" the scapegoat for political resentment. "Them" must become "us."

      1. Come up with a plan.

      2. Organize to implement the plan.

      Now that you are retired, you can get to work.

    2. Did write to the Boston Globe on Tuesday and got published yesterday. Totally concur with your emphasis on community life--and there are schools and districts that manage to do that seriously and joyfully, as the occasion merits.

      Over the years, I've given a lot of thought about how and in what ways teaching jobs have become unmanageable and unreasonable, as you put it in a later comment. Going to review and rethink, with the idea of persuading a parent/community audience rather than a school administrator audience.

  8. Lots to respond to in your comments above, everyone, and I am thinking. Jim's comment reminds me of The Teacher Salary Project started by Ninive Clements (who student-taught and regular taught at CRLS and Dave Eggers: .

    Thanks! And more later.

    1. The Teacher Salary Project seems like a useful propaganda effort, but it is not really what I had in mind.

      I think what is needed is grass roots organizing (a city, to start) with a broader focus. When you demonstrate success in one city, the movement will slowly grow by copycat.

      Yelling "more salaries" is too narrow. Very doubtful you will get a broad and growing coalition that way.

      In my experience, people want the job before them to be manageable and reasonable. But you have to attack the job that is there, not the job that you wish was there.

    2. Hi, Jim --

      I wouldn't characterize The Teacher Salary Project as a propaganda effort, but I--and they--would concur that it's not just about salaries. That's why they just posted this article on their FB page:

      You are right on target when you say the job has to be more manageable and reasonable, and it's neither at the moment in most schools. Unfortunately, unlike some other unmanageable, unreasonable jobs out there, it's viewed negatively by young people choosing careers, parents, and teachers' bosses in far too many schools. I think you're right about beginning with a city--which is where Linda's really good ideas above come in!

    3. My point was a little different, though I do not disagree with your latest point.

      My point was that community organizing, building a community relationship between the school/continuing education and the locals, and organizing political support for specific proposals -- all that is very daunting and unfamiliar territory.

      Writing blogs, articles or book. Setting up an internet petition. Much more in our "continual student" comfort zone. No messy conversations with people who do not care that much, or who disagree, etc.

      It is unfair to expect education intellectuals to organize local meetings, activities and political initiatives. Not "in the lane" for academic debate.

      But the task at hand is organizing. No one much is doing it. (As with so many issues today.)

      For decades, we have learned to talk about things. Read about things. Think about things. Discuss things in a proper academic setting, or among friends.

      We have to change things. That means organizing.

    4. You're right, Jim. It's interesting: I'm on a committee with right now with some people who were very active Civil Rights organizers, and I often see their impatience with "just talk" and their simultaneous carefulness about what gets shared with whom, when, with whom. Other people on the committee have long organized parents, etc. around school policy issues quite successfully. The thing about all of these people is that they all tend to say "yes, I will" rather than "I wish I could, but . . .." You're making me appreciate some resources I'm in contact with all the time, although not around the issue we're discussing here--although, interestingly, around an issue that connects to this one in an oblique way.

    5. It seems to me that there are two aspects of organizing that would complement each other. First, making lists. Second, constructing daily routines.


      Much of organizing is making lists. Networking is the fancy schmancy idea. But you have to find a way to connect people.

      One way would be to start an organization (get a small grant, hire a helper) to coordinate education activities (in certain categories) in the metropolitan region. Start a "meeting place" website. Identify the school committees, the parent organizations, the continuing education programs, the teacher organizations, theater, music, film. Then track what is going on. Who is in charge where? Call, call, call. Update, update, update. Become the easy place to find out things. Become the proud place to announce things. Become a way for people to feel connected.

      Daily routines.

      Encourage similar projects in various places. Maybe it is teacher skill workshops, or student poetry awards.

      Arrange blues guitar continuing education. Or Swedish detective genre appreciation. Create a circuit for continuing education teachers with a schtick to ride. A circuit for theater companies to ride.

      Create a community. A place where people meet and have fun. Talk. Do some good.

      A fraternity.

    6. One other thing that your community education association website should track and update are job training and job placement activities. At the high schools, and afterward.

      Reach out to employers and employer associations.

      For all the reasons that we discussed earlier.

      Culture and productive activities should go together. Our neighborhoods need confidence that learning and building a successful life go hand in hand.

      If you can build that confidence at the grass roots, there will be popular support for necessary political and administrative reforms.

    7. Thanks for making me think of this as a person outside of the schools rather than an employee of the schools. Big difference, but a very important shift not only in perspective but potential way of operating for change.

  9. I think Ninive goes professionally as Nineve Calegari, not Ninive Clements. Dave Eggers goes as Dave Eggers. Don't know why the web address didn't appear in my comment, but you can find the organization.

  10. I'm Ninive Calegari or Ninive Clements Calegari -- either! I am here. I love this piece. Thank you, Joan. I really appreciate your points about bringing and keeping talent from every background into this terrifically important profession.

    To chime in on Jim P's comments: Funding at local level leads to great inequity. Also, given local funding governors all cross their arms and say, "oh well, what can I do?" and most do nothing. Forgiving loans is a key factor.

    And, I agree with Linda as well: while successful countries don't look exactly like we do, we have to embrace their ideas: paid masters, double masters, professional growth, strong leadership, tough competition to get into teaching schools and professional wages. That is how they get real prestige. Everyone should read Amanda Ripley's book on this topic. She is a great storyteller and one thing she points out about the countries that are more successful is that the students themselves know that their teachers were the smartest kids in their own classes.

    If you look at the map on my website you will find that 30 out of 50 states have seen a decline in teachers' pay. What are they thinking? Had teachers salaries kept pace with classroom spending average salaries would be 120K.

    Please help us by taking our pledge on, and by watching our film and sending it to anyone who can make a difference! It's available in 100 million homes and you can see if you're one here:

    I wrote a piece on this topic recently for the Washington Post education blog. If you're interested, it's here:

    Yours warmly,

    Joan Soble was an incredible mentor teacher. Just FYI, everyone. I only had her for one year and the lessons I learned from her were the ones I carried with me and revisited often.

    1. I am going to find Amanda Ripley's book, Ninive -- thanks so much, and that article that was just posted on The Teacher Salary Project FB page is an important one for all of us involved in this conversation! I'll respond to it there:

    2. Just realized my education book group is reading this Amanda Ripley's book this month!

  11. Hi Joan!

    I am curious for more clarity about your thoughts on producing "top-notch" teachers vs. teacher diversity. Those seem like two entirely different issues to me , what is your take?


    1. Hi, Eli --

      I think that there's often an assumption out there among some (I often fear many)--a racist assumption--that a racially diverse teacher force will not be a "top-notch" teacher force--as if diversity and high quality are mutually exclusive.

      But I agree with you that quality and diversity are actually two different issues. "Top-notch" teachers of any color are made over time through their own efforts and those of institutions and people who help them achieve their educator potentials over time.

      All teaching candidates, white or nonwhite, should be hired because they have the potential for top-notchness which can be cultivated and realized. They all need to be able to do, with a reasonable amount of support, a "good enough" job as "new" teachers so that their "newness" does not disadvantage their students, and to be able to do a "really good/excellent" job in time.

      I would never advocate hiring teachers just because they're nonwhite; but I do want to be sure that nonwhite teaching candidates aren't more vulnerable than similarly inexperienced white teaching candidates when they first enter the job market.

      Thanks for pushing my thinking an ability to articulate this!

    2. Thanks Joan - I appreciate your response and perspective, definitely resonates!