By: Rann Miller
I’ve had the distinct privilege to be part of teacher hiring teams in school districts where I have worked. I call such service on hiring teams significant, but it is not always a guarantee that hiring teams are reflective of the diversity of its communities.
As an African American educator, I brought a unique perspective to the group—as did my Asian and Latino colleagues who worked with us. My perspective was displayed in the qualities I looked for in a teacher and how my criteria showed up in the questions I asked.
I am thankful for the opportunity to give voice to what students needed, specifically students of color—a voice that reflected parents of color and communities of color. Such voices are often missing from those tables. Sometimes, voices like mine are missing on purpose. It is because voices like mine challenge conventional voices.
In other words, the perspectives of people of color may challenge white voices.
Some white people don’t like that. It’s not necessarily that those white people don’t like people of color or are explicitly racist. But it is to say that many institutions, like public and private schools and/or districts are white institutional spaces.
These are spaces where the policies, postures, and procedures are put in place by white people and even if Black people have roles of significance in these spaces, they reinforce these policies, postures and procedures.
A school and/or district can have people of color as members of their hiring teams or in the lead position for making a hiring decision. But because structurally that school and/or district has been set up to justify and reproduce white privilege, power, and accumulation of resources, it may be hard for well-intentioned individuals to circumvent this.
It is therefore important for school and district leaders, understanding the need to hire people of color to occupy their classrooms, to partner with organizations that can help them reconfigure the organizational mechanism for hiring teachers, organizations like DIVERSITY in Ed. Not only can DIVERSITY in Ed connect schools and/or districts with teachers and teacher candidates of color to hire but can also provide those institutions with the expertise necessary to change hiring practices in ways that diversity isn’t simply a buzzword but is a lifestyle for an organization.
To do that, schools and/or districts must be committed to a partnership that is 50/50. While there is an invisible tax on teachers of color, it can extend to organizations of color that are expected to be a magic-wand for diversity. Rather than performing magic, it is imperative for school and/or district leaders to perform in their partnerships and purpose to hire more teachers of color for their classrooms.