A big thanks to Rann Miller for continuing to highlight this issue. 

I’ve argued the need for school districts to hire more Black teachers; specifically Black male teachers.[1] My argument isn’t limited to only adding more Black male teachers – but Black and Latino teachers of both as well. My call isn’t limited to where Black and Latino teachers are largely absent; but also for where they are “plentiful.” Black and Latino teachers tend to be “plentiful” in urban and inner-city school districts. However, if one were to do a deep dive into the numbers, they’d find that these districts could do a better job at recruiting and retaining Black and Latino faculty. Schools in the city of Camden could do a better job; Camden City School District (CCSD), renaissance charter schools[2] (RCS) and non-renaissance charter schools[3] (NRCS). On its face, TPS in Camden have gone through a number of changes that are responsible for declining enrollment and a reduction in faculty. Schools have closed, others have merged, and some have been given to RCS to manage. Also, NRCS have always posed competition for TPS. One can look at all charters and point out that growth in both enrollment and faculty is due to the changes felt by TPS. What do all these changes mean with respect to Black and Latino teachers? Black and Latino teachers are losing their jobs with TPS but are they faring better with RCS and NRCS where faculty employment demographics is concerned?

School closures, mergers and the emergence of charters have changed the composition of faculty and staff in CCSD. As a result of all these changes, CCSD faculty has been reduced by more than half between the 2011-12 SY and 2015-16 SY; a percent decrease of 56%. The same is true for White, Black and Latino teachers. Figure 1 displays the exact percentages.

 

Figure 1 – Population and Percent Decrease of Camden School District Teachers by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

White Teachers

Teachers of Color

Black Teachers

Latino Teachers

2011-2012 Pop

591.9

763

623

123

2015-2016 Pop

239.5

357

278

64

Percent Change

– 59.5%

 – 53.2%

 – 55.4%

 – 48%

*http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Figure 2 – Ratio of Camden School District Teachers to Students by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

White Teachers

Teachers of Color

Black Teachers

Latino Teachers

2011-2012 Ratio to Black Students

1 : 11

1 : 9

1 : 10

1 : 55

2015-2016 Ratio to Black Students

1 : 18

1 : 12

1 : 15

1 : 66

2011-2012 Ratio to Latino Students

1 : 11

1 : 9

1 : 11

1 : 55

2015-2016 Ratio to Latino Students

1 : 20

1 : 14

1 : 17

1 : 76

*http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Figure 2 displays the ratio of teacher to students according to the racial category of the teacher and the racial category of the student. Most noticeable in figures 1 and 2 between Black and Latino teachers is that Black teachers have a higher percent decrease while Latino teachers continue to have the most disproportionate ratios for both Black and Latino students. CCSD over this period of time has maintained a steady majority of Black teachers when compared to every other racial group. While Latino teachers are underrepresented, CCSD have maintained like percentages of teachers of all racial groups during this 5 year period as seen in figure 3. In fact, Camden City Schools have raised their percentage of Black and Latino teachers (minimally) while massive reductions in faculty have taken place:

 

Figure 3 –Percent of Camden School District Teachers by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

%White Teachers

%Black Teachers

%Latino Teachers

2011-2012

45%

46%

9%

2015-2016

42%

47%

11%

  *http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

The massive reduction of the CCSD faculty over this 5 year period begs the question: where have they gone? Some have left Camden altogether for “greener” pastures. Others found “greener” pastures in Camden – charter schools. If we were to look at the same statistics expressed earlier for CCSD in all charter schools, both RCS and NRCS, we could compare charter school faculty employment with CCSD faculty employment.[4]

 

Figure 4 – Population and Percent Decrease of Camden Charter School Teachers (RCS & NRCS) by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

White Teachers

Teachers of Color

Black Teachers

Latino Teachers

2011-2012 Pop

189.2

86

55

22

2015-2016 Pop

381.9

160.1

89.1

46

Percent Change

+ 102%

+ 86.2%

+ 62%

+ 109.1%

*http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Figure 5 – Ratio of Camden Charter School Teachers (RCS & NRCS) to Students by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

White Teachers

Teachers of Color

Black Teachers

Latino Teachers

2011-2012 Ratio to Black Students

1 : 8

1 : 18

1 : 28

1 : 69

2015-2016 Ratio to Black Students

1 : 8

1 : 19

1 : 33

1 : 65

2011-2012 Ratio to Latino Students

1 : 13

1 : 16

1 : 25

1 : 62

2015-2016 Ratio to Latino Students

1 : 10

1 : 23

1 : 42

1 : 80

*http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Unlike CCSD, Camden charter schools collectively had an increase in the hired teachers by race; Latino teachers having the highest percent increase when compared with White teachers, Black teachers and teachers of color as a whole. Charter schools could hold those percentages against the CCSD and tout their efforts to employing teachers of color. But just like I can list the host of events previously mentioned to explain the reasons for the changes in CCSD, I too can cite those same events having the inverse impact on Camden charters. A fact that is indisputable is that the CCSD employed more Black teachers than they did  White teachers than did charter schools in the 5 year period between the 2011-12 and 2015-16 SY’s. Both CCSD and Camden City charters employed roughly the same percentage of Latino teachers; both low percentages. Where we see some difference is when we compare figure 2 with figure 5. The ratios show that in Camden City, even with their reductions in faculty (and students),  still managed to have a better ratio of black teachers to black students when compared to charter schools. CCSD and charter schools both had poor ratios of Latino teachers to Latino students; charter schools having worse ratios of the two where Latino teachers and students were concerned. Another interesting observation is figure 3 when compared with figure 6:

 

Figure 6 –Percent of Camden Charter School Teachers (RCS & NRCS) by Race from 2011-2012 SY to 2015-2016 SY

 

%White Teachers

%Black Teachers

%Latino Teachers

2011-2012

68.7%

20%

8%

2015-2016

70%

16%

8%

  *http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Figure 3 shows us the percent make up of teachers by race; specific to White, Black and Latino teachers in the CCSD. Figure 6 shows us the same statistics but for Camden charter schools. Figure 3 shows us that not only was there a higher percentage of Black and Latino teachers than White teachers between the 2011-12 and 2015-16 SY’s, but during that five year period, the percentages of Black and Latino teachers increased while the percentage of White teachers decreased; all while the numbers of faculty declined across the board. When you compare that with figure 6, one can hypothesize that charter schools have a lot of work to do. During the same five year period, while the percentage of Latino teachers didn’t change, the percentage of Black teachers decreased while the percentage of White teachers increased. While figures 1 and 4 give plausibility to the notion that charter schools in Camden are employing Black and Latino teachers at higher percentages than CCSD, figures 3 and 6 tell us that charter schools have some work to do to meet the bar CCSD has set.

 

Figure 7 – Percent Teachers, Students and Teacher/Student Ratios for Black and Latinos in Camden Public and Charter Schools during the 2015-2016 SY

 

% Black & Latino Teachers

% Black & Latino Students

Ratio Black & Latino Teachers to Black and Latino Students

Camden City School District

58%

98%

1 : 27

Camden City Charter Schools

24%

98%

1 : 49

*http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/

 

Charter schools in Camden are employing Black and Latino students; however they are employing White teachers in higher numbers. The collective supply of charter school teachers is not meeting the demand of its student populations.[5] This was true during my time teaching in while working in some of Camden’s charter schools. That truth matters a great deal. The argument isn’t that White teachers cannot teach Black and Brown students. The argument is however that ALL students prefer teachers of color[6], and when matched with the same race teacher, Black and Latino students perform better academically[7]. In addition, Black and Latino teachers can speak to and counsel students differently based on their shared set of experiences.  It isn’t that White teachers cannot meet Black and Latino students where they are, however there are challenges White teachers must overcome to understand what their Whiteness[8] means in terms of power over students in a traditionally White institution: the public school. While I am pleased to see that Mastery Charter[9] as well as the CCSD[10] are inching toward restorative justice practices over no excuses models, the no excuses philosophy has not been abandoned by school and district leaders. When implemented, no excuses tactics can be internalized by students differently when they come from teachers of color versus White teachers. No excuses may also mean something different to teachers of color compared to White teachers, and may in fact be applied to students differently as well. I am not a proponent of the no excuses mantra[11]. However, teachers of color who teach in such environments are informed by a cultural and emotional intelligence that make the desired warm strict tone possible. Again, this isn’t to say that White teacher are incapable of teaching students of color. It is to say that it is easier to be familiar when you are familiar.[12] It would behoove Charter schools, particularly those who make it a point to be “familiar” with their students and their families, to hire teachers who can make strategic and genuine familiarity possible.

 

Randy R. Miller is a doctoral student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden Campus. He is a director of a federally funded after-school program for a school district located in southern New Jersey. He is a former classroom teacher of 6 years in charter schools located in Camden, New Jersey. He is the author of the Urban Education Mixtape Blog (http://urbanedmixtape.com). He can be followed on twitter at @UrbanEdDJ

 

[1] http://danley.camden.rutgers.edu/2017/01/31/a-data-driven-approach-to-hiring-more-black-male-teachers-by-randy-miller/; http://danley.camden.rutgers.edu/2017/03/17/have-you-considered-an-hbcu-when-recruiting-prospective-black-male-teachers-by-randy-r-miller/; http://danley.camden.rutgers.edu/2017/05/15/unsure-about-running-the-relay-by-rann-miller/

[2] Renaissance charter schools include (1) Master Charter Schools, (2) Uncommon Schools and (3) KIPP Schools.

[3] Non-Renaissance charter schools include (1) Camden Academy High School, (2) Camden Community Charter School, (3) Camden’s Pride Charter School, (4) Camden’s Promise Charter School, (5) City Invincible Charter School, (6) D.U.E. Season Charter School, (7) Environmental Community Charter School, (8) Freedom (Academy) Prep Charter School, (9) Hope Community Charter School, (10) LEAP Academy University Charter.

[4] All NRCS schools were not in operation at the same time during the five year period. RCS were fully operational during the 2014-15 SY with the exception of Uncommon Schools; which was operational during the 2015-16 SY.

[5] http://hechingerreport.org/good-news-answer-shortage-black-brown-teachers/

[6] https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2016/october/students-of-all-races-prefer-teachers-of-color–finds-nyu-steinh.html

[7] http://releases.jhu.edu/2017/04/05/with-just-one-black-teacher-black-students-more-likely-to-graduate/; http://curry.virginia.edu/magazine/2016/09/does-it-matter-if-teachers-and-students-are-the-same-race/  

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/09/white-teacher-i-thought-i-could-reach-my-black-students-then-one-told-me-why-i-couldnt/?utm_term=.2590079e9444

[9] http://hechingerreport.org/the-end-of-no-excuses-education-reform/

[10] http://www.philly.com/philly/education/Camden-suspensions-school-students.html

[11] http://hechingerreport.org/good-news-answer-shortage-black-brown-teachers/

[12] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/03/31/white-teachers-and-black-teachers-have-different-expectations-for-black-students/?utm_term=.2b3a1adccf00

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