I was told by one African American principal that I may not know how to teach Black kids. The other day I heard one principal say of that same principal who spoke to me, I’m surprised he doesn’t know how to work with Black children.
I didn’t take the bait in either conversation. Though I can’t say I was stunned into silence, I did figure silence was the best response. None the less these comments bothered me. I went to a child’s first birthday party today. The girl is adopted and is Black while the parents are White. In the car with me were my wife and our close friend whose spouse happens to Black. They have four kids. As I told her the story I stated, “Mixed couples don’t decide to raise their children Black or White, they raise them with love to be participate in our society. Of course as soon as I said it I realized she was the expert, not me. Since she enthusiastically agreed with me, I decided to make it the topic of this week’s blog.
Kids are not Black or white, they’re just kids. My dad grew up poor and was in fights all the time. Did people then think Jewish kids had to be taught differently? When the Italians, Irish, Polish, and Asian all immigrated here and faced discrimination, unable to get a job, did schools say we have to teach these children of various ethnicities differently?
The answer isn’t no, it’s hell no, but the fact these discussion take place by both Black and White principals demonstrates we are not over the race question. A law suit is currently underway in Philadelphia begun by teachers who are white and were told by their principal they were unable to teach Black children. Another article stated the principal forced these teachers to read a book about teaching Black children. Are the Blacks of 2011 taking us back to before Brown V Board of Education?
Discrimination by those in the education field is beyond reprehensible. To reach Dr. King’s dream all children must be treated the same and taught the same. In Philadelphia, both the CEO of the School District and the President of the Teacher’s union are African American and can share personal stories of racism. I admire them both. Together they need to, and I expect they will resolve this issue.
If teaching is about race, then our country is a failure.