By: Rann Miller
Depending on who you ask, there may or may not be a national teaching shortage crisis. What is true however is the exodus of teachers of color from classrooms around the country. What good is it to recruit teachers of color to your schools if they cannot be retained? The answer is that it’s no good to do one if you are unable to do the other.
Does that mean to give up on recruiting teachers of color because you cannot retain them as fast as you can recruit them? No. It simply means that you must work harder at retaining them.
Retaining teachers of color starts with renewing a commitment to establishing trust with teachers of color. That requires for district leaders to not do the things that have encouraged teachers of color to leave the profession.
Most of all, school district leaders mustn’t impose the invisible tax upon teachers.
The invisible tax on teachers of color has to do with schools imposing responsibilities on teachers of color that leave them with the unnecessary burden governing students of color while only assisting white teachers. Included in that tax is teachers of color being made de facto disciplinarians of students of color. The tax also includes teachers of color serving as the resident educator for white educators whenever they have questions.
Teachers of color are a resource to support a school’s ability to meet the needs of students of color. That is a good thing. But their role is not limited to serving at the behest of white educations who don’t take the time to build relationships with students of color, who believe students of color are inherently worse behaving than white students, or who fail to learn the very truths of our national origins that color the experiences of people of color in the United States.
Teachers of color, particularly Black and Latino teachers are leaving the profession because schools are guilty of imposing that very invisible tax on them. Avoiding those postures towards teachers can help to keep them within your school.
It is admirable when districts engage in the work of changing these postures. It can be difficult however because schools are white institutional spaces. That means that school would be wise to partner with organizations like DIVERSITY in Ed who can support their efforts to retain teachers of color. Rather than leaning on teachers of color, lean on instructions of color to help guide how the work of retaining teachers of color is done.