Clover Park School District has the third highest percentage of Black or African American residents in Washington.
No wonder then that the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective wanted to know how I, as a candidate for Clover Park School Board, would address one of the Black Collective’s objectives, that of improving the educational outcomes of Black students.
A John Hopkins University study – and many others like it – was headlined “With Just One Black Teacher, Black students More Likely To Graduate.”
A Washington State Vibrant Teaching Force Alliance document delivered November 6, 2018, in contract with Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) of Education Northwest, examined the correlation between “a racially and ethnically diverse teacher workforce” and the beneficiaries: not only students of color but white students as well.
“For students of color (students who are Hispanic and/or non-White), having a teacher of the same race or ethnicity may increase test scores and reduce the likelihood of disciplinary issues.
“Students of color also benefit from higher teacher expectations and seeing members of their own race/ethnicity as role models in positions of authority.
“For White students, diverse learning communities provide exposure to multiple perspectives and can improve their ability to solve problems, think critically, and develop creativity.
“Having teachers from multiple backgrounds may also increase White students’ sense of civic engagement while offering important cognitive, social, and emotional benefits.”
Another Washington State REL study (March 2018), examined nearly 40 articles written over the previous two decades “that describe teacher preparation programs and district practices to recruit, train, and retain bilingual and diverse teachers in the United States.
“These articles describe common practices and participant experiences but do not address long-term outcomes.”
However, I would wager my candidacy for Clover Park School Board that the following does indeed determine – more than anything else – the long-term outcomes when the recruitment emphasis has less to do with color as it has to do with character.
Interestingly, the best qualified teachers of color – of any color – who best impact the lives of students of color – of any color – are, more often than not, those who are less characterized by their credentials – certifications, education, and experience – as they are characterized by how they communicate, that they are “understanding, compassionate, nurturing, empathetic, and loving.”
Keep your eyes on the Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Pathway to Teaching Program because there, in my view, the emPHAsis is on the right sylLABle.
Academic and other forms of supports can be provided. Teaching with passion and compassion, not so much.
If, or rather since, the great object of education is to inspire the student by way of the passionate teacher’s opening of the window to the world and, in that glimpse of possibilities, help him see what they could be; that his momentary unintelligible scribbles will one day have great significance; and that the journey of discovery begins now, then far surpassing the importance of grade point averages and college entrance exam results, which are the common criteria by which teachers are normally selected and hired, is this unassailable truth:
Teaching that is life-changing is not a matter of black or white.