Amina posts on Arne Duncan's recent show of flare in the TEACH campaign:
Hats off to Secretary Duncan! We do need more Black male teachers. They’re 2% of the total teacher population. The goal is to recruit 80,000 new African American male teachers by 2015. The initiative is part of the TEACH campaign to recruit new teachers in the wake of a retiring workforce.
And Black Male Teachers Are Important Because?
Yet, this all begs the question: Why is this initiative important? “Teachers should look like the people they serve” Duncan proclaims. But why? What forces at work in our schools--in society, make it critical to have that representation? But that’s a kind of Pandora’s Box for an administration careful to avoid conversations about persistent and institutionalized racism and inequity in our schools.
A Teacher Campaign with Flare
Check out the TEACH campaign website. It’s textually sparse. As if reading too much might scare off a potential teacher. It’s a light and wistful discussion on teaching—little thoughtful analysis. However, what the TEACH campaign may lack in critical analysis, it makes up for in flare. It’s heavy on 45 second long testimonials—they’ve even got Oprah doing a testimonial. Yesterday, Spike Lee appeared at the last TEACH event touting the new initiative. It’s all very attractive. Just check out the Department of Education's complete media advisory.
Yet, talking about the reality of teaching in an underserved school again leads to the touchy subject of the Obama Administration’s approach to these schools. In the case of turnaround schools; where teachers are most in need, there’s the threat of mass teacher firings and frequent principal changes. There’s increasing pressure placed on those teachers to “show results”. How quickly the conversation shifts from, be a leader, be a role model, change a life to let’s get those test scores up, NOW!