Educate All Students, Support Public Education

May 11, 2010

Duncan Can’t Figure out Why So Few Black Teachers in New Orleans

Filed under: Arne Duncan — millerlf @ 2:39 pm

Below is a link to a story that ran
today about Arne Duncan visiting New Orleans and bemoaning the low
percentage of African American teachers in the United States .  He is
expected to give a commencement speech at Xavier University in New
Orleans today and encourage students to consider a career in teaching.

I hope that during Duncan ‘s visit someone reminds him that all 4,000
teachers in New Orleans , 90% of whom were black, were summarily fired
after hurricane Katrina and replaced with overwhelmingly white Teach For
America teachers with no certification and little more than six weeks of

Why would young African Americans opt for a career in teaching after
seeing what the state did to the 4,000 black New Orleans teachers who
devoted themselves to educating challenging students?  Teaching has
become an even more perilous vocation as a result of Duncan ‘s Race To
The Top Program, founded on the specious argument that failing schools
are the sole responsibility of bad teachers, so bad teachers need to be

The New Orleans policy of relying on novice teachers has contributed to
an academically segregated two-tiered system of schools that
concentrates novice teachers in schools where students have the greatest
needs for skilled educators. I have attached an UNTO report on the lack
of experienced teachers in New Orleans in which the authors note that:

* Before Katrina only 10% of New Orleans Teachers were in their first or
second year teaching.  By 2008, 33% of the city’s teaches fall in this
novice category.
* Inexperienced teachers are dumped into the remaining state-run RSD
public schools, ensuring that the students with the greatest needs are
taught by the least prepared teachers.
* 40% of all teachers in the state-run RSD schools have less than 2
years experience, compared to only 18% in the charter schools that
opened in 2006.
* At-risk black students are nearly three times as likely to have a
novice teacher than non at-risk white youth.

If we want more young African Americans to rise to the challenge of
teaching the disadvantaged, then we need to reward altruism rather than
punish it.

Link to Duncan Article

Lance Hill, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Southern Institute for Education and Research
Tulane University
MR Box 1692
31 McAlister Drive
New Orleans , LA 70118
(504) 865-6100
fax (504) 862-8957

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