Education around the world

| September 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Where are all the black teachers?

The Institute of Labour Economics (IZA) (German: Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit) is a private, independent economic research institute and academic network focused on the analysis of global labour markets and headquartered in Bonn, Germany. Last year, it released a report that showed that black students perform better at school when they have a black teacher. However, in the US, more and more black teachers are leaving the profession. Says www.usatoday.com: “At last count (2017), about 82% of [American] teachers were white, down from 83% eight years earlier”. Authors Diana D’Amico, Robert J. Pawlewicz, Penelope M. Earley and Adam P. McGeehan, located at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia, attempted to find out the reason behind the statistic in a 2017 report entitled “Where Are All the Black Teachers? Discrimination in the Teacher Labour Market”. D’Amico & co found that black teachers face several barriers when trying to secure a position. They are more likely, for example, to be placed in high-poverty schools, where teacher turnover rates are high. A key reason for that is the comparatively low salaries black teachers are likely to receive, a factor outlined in the report “Pension Problems: How Gender and Race Complicate Illinois’ Teacher Retirement Woes” released by Bellwether Education Partners in Boston, Massachusetts. The report also found that American black teachers get promoted much later in their careers than their white counterparts. Says the report, Getting promoted more quickly has an obvious immediate and positive impact on someone’s salary. But the benefits continue year after year as pay increases build on that higher salary. In other words, a black educator who is promoted later in her career needs to work longer to earn as much in the aggregate as her colleague who became an administrator a few years earlier. Earning master’s degrees early on has a similar effect since most school districts provide a significant pay bump for earning additional credentials… these trends add up to higher salaries, at earlier ages, and greater lifetime earnings for white teachers and administrators. Min Sun, an academic at the University of Washington, probed the issue further in her report entitled “Black Teachers’ Retention and Transfer Patterns in North Carolina: How Do Patterns Vary by Teacher Effectiveness, Subject, and School Conditions?” Says Sun, “The schools where black teachers worked… had weaker principal leadership, less effective mentoring, and lowerquality professional development. The observed black-white retention gap can be partially explained by these challenging work context and professional characteristics. “Black teachers tend to work in hard-to-staff schools that serve a larger proportion of students of colour or underperforming students, have poorer school supports, and are in lower [socio-economic] communities.”

Mayhem in Mexico

In June 2018, US president Donald Trump finally signed an executive order putting a stop to the policy of separating children and parents at the US-Mexico border. British newspaper The Guardian reported simply that: “This not the end of the issue, as many people have pointed out”. Prophetic words indeed, as Trump and his administration did not meet a crucial 10 July deadline. Federal judges decreed that by this date, asylum seekers held in custody for illegal border crossings had to be reunited with their children. Another deadline – 26 July – also passed by, says American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) representative Lee Gelernt, adding that, “We have 2,000 to 3,000 more children five [years] and older who have not been reunited [with their parents]”. Reports UK paper the Daily Mail, “[US] administration officials say that they won’t be able to confirm a child’s parentage by the deadline if DNA testing is inconclusive. They will need more time to collect DNA samples or other evidence from parents who have been released from government custody.” The infamous US-Mexico border is divided into sections. While there are several “ports of entry”, many families lacking the correct paperwork cross at illegal points. Thus, the El Paso sector of the border, covering western Texas and eastern New Mexico and a popular illegal crossing point, was chosen by federal law enforcement as a zero-tolerance zone last year. Whilst records of numbers differ drastically, it has emerged that between 1 October 2017 and 31 May 2018 at least 2 700 children were forcibly taken from their families in zero-tolerance border zones and placed in government custody or foster care. ‘Illegal alien’ parents were sent to detention centres without being told when they would see their children again. Said online news source Vox, “The Trump administration’s solution… [was] to stop treating [those seeking asylum] as families: to detain the parents as criminals and place the children in the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “unaccompanied minors””. Meanwhile it emerged that HHS has lost track of at least 1 500 unaccompanied children since October 2016, “raising serious questions about how easily they could be reunited with their parents in ICE detention centres after the conclusion of a criminal case”. In late July 2018, www.ewn.co.za reported that “about 1 400 children of some 2 500 separated from their parents at the USMexican border had been reunited with their families”. This was according to a US government statement, which added that other children were not yet eligible for reunification with their parents.

Category: Spring 2018

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