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Science And Nature

The way the 1954 Brown decision still influences todays teaching ranks

In her book Jim Crows Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership, Leslie Fenwick tells the story of highly qualified Black educators displaced during school integration efforts.

The book, published earlier this season, presents historical evidence showing that following a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which endedsegregation inschools, nearly 100,000 Black educators were dismissed or demoted from their positions and frequently replaced with less qualified white educators. That meant losing many Black teachers who had used scholarships provided by some states to wait schools like NY University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, and University of Michigan because of their teaching credentials.

Why We Wrote This

With the beginning of the institution year comes talk of shoring up the ranks of teachers, including those from Black, Latino, and Native communities. What historical patterns have influenced the necessity for diverse teachers today? The writer of a recently available book addresses myths and solutions.

Dr. Fenwick, the dean emerita of the institution of education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and professor of education policy, says the pipeline for Black educators was nearly decimated due to the Brown decision. Today, historically Black universites and colleges, and many that admit primarily Latino students, create a large part of educators from those communities.

I believe there must be more investment in these institutions, she says, because they’re strong engines for the production of teachers of color.

Education has always played an essential role in Leslie Fenwicks life.

The dean emerita of the institution of education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and professor of education policy says that her parents were adamantly against segregationist policies. In addition they taught her about Black educator excellence, a tale she wasnt taught in school.

Dr. Fenwicks latest book, Jim Crows Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership, published earlier this season, tells the story of highly qualified Black educators displaced during school integration efforts. The book presents historical evidence showing that following a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools, nearly 100,000 Black educators were dismissed or demoted from their positions and frequently replaced with less qualified white educators. That meant losing many Black teachers who had used scholarships provided by some states to wait schools like NY University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, and University of Michigan for his or her teaching credentials.

Why We Wrote This

With the beginning of the institution year comes talk of shoring up the ranks of teachers, including those from Black, Latino, and Native communities. What historical patterns have influenced the necessity for diverse teachers today? The writer of a recently available book addresses myths and solutions.

Dr. Fenwick spoke with the Monitor concerning the history her book documents, how she sees the events of the post-Brown era still affecting education today, and possible paths forward to handle past harms. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Is there ripple effects from what happened to numerous Black educators following Brown v. Board of Education that people still see in schooling and the educator workforce today? What connections can you see between what happened previously now?

I really do believe theres a link. I dont think this history is dead, and I believe were still coping with the fallout of the history. When 100,000 Black educators were purged from the machine, and they were the systems most credentialed, experienced, and capable educators, you note that the system had not been left in the hands of the very most capable at the very least with regards to the quantitative, normally accepted indicators of quality, which may function as teachers credentials.

Through the years that purge is going on, the overwhelming majority, something similar to 72% of Black professionals, are educators, either principals or teachers. The Black community, and I’d say the general public school system generally, experienced four traumas: [First,] the increased loss of a generation of exceptionally credentialed and effective educators. [Second,] the worst trauma will be that connection with Black students who now found themselves in previously all-white segregated schools without types of intellectual authority in teachers or leadership authority in principals, without models to steer them through violent attacks or even to tell them how exactly to negotiate racism. [Third,] economic trauma. 100,000 educators losing their jobs translated in the Black community to in regards to a $1 billion economic cut. [And fourth,] Black educators stood for example that there is ways to be educated, to secure a working service to your community, sufficient reason for the massive firings that notion was troubled, and I believe it had implications for future generations pursuing learning to be a teacher or principal.

You mention in the book everything you call a myth, that following a Brown decision, Black educators left education for better jobs in various fields. So how exactly does your book show that to become a myth?

It is a point that basically is quite vital that you me because its repeated not merely in commentary, but additionally even in the study literature, that with the Brown decision, Blacks fled the training professions to pursue careers previously not available to them. That myth has been used to state that is why there’s an underrepresentation of Blacks in the training profession today. Actually, the historical record shows the Black educator pipeline was nearly decimated due to massive resistance by whites to the brand new law of the land, Brown v. Board of Education.

Labor statistics usually do not support that myth. We dont see after Brown an uptick in Blacks leaving the teaching profession and becoming physicians or dentists or scientists with government agencies, or business executives in corporate America.

Before Brown, in the 17 states which were operating racially segregated school systems by state law and custom, 35% to 50% of principals and teachers were Black. Today, about 7% of the nations 3.2 million teachers are Black, and about 11% of the nations nearly 90,000 roughly principals are Black, and significantly less than 3% of the nations nearly 14,000 superintendents are Black. In a few ways in accordance with the Black educator pipeline, weve gone backward.

What impact did the dismissal and demotion of Black educators following Brown v. Board of Education have on the students who have been attending newly integrated schools?

Among the explanations why the hope of Brown is unfilled is basically because we didnt integrate. We simply moved Black students into previously all-white segregated schools. Black students went into settings which were captured, I’d say, by the segregationist hang on them. Therefore the types of intellectual authority were almost exclusively white. The style of leadership authority was almost exclusively white. The curriculum was almost exclusively white with regards to imagery, when it comes to content, and with regards to authorship. I believe that combination accrues to the disadvantage of Black students intellectual and academic development. We’ve about 40 years of research that presents that whenever Black students and Hispanic/Latinx students come in highly diversely staffed schools, there are many academic and social benefits that accrue in their mind.

What recommendations is it possible to offer to folks who are wondering what you can do now to greatly help repair the harms from days gone by your book documents?

Among the great findings of the book is that the NAACP is obviously a champion for the case of Black educators if they are purged using this system. The NAACP, at the urging of Black educators, engaged majority-white organizations, mainly the National Association for Secondary School Principals, which at that time was almost exclusively white and male. The NASSP involves aid from Black principals and teachers and works together with the NAACP to say it is wrong, plus they are very adamant about any of it. They, combined with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Jewish Congress this multiracial coalition beneath the herculean leadership of the NAACP fight for the proper cause. I believe theres still a note there that interracial, pluralistic, diverse coalitions fighting privately of right could make an improvement and that people will get further with regards to achieving equality and equity goals whenever we collaborate in this manner.

For policymakers, in 2022, [historically Black colleges and universities] produce over 50% of the nations Black teachers, but HBCUs are significantly less than 3% of the nations universites and colleges, so they are really strong engines for the production of Black educators. Two Hispanic-serving institutions produce 90% of the nations Hispanic/Latinx teachers. I believe there must be more investment in these institutions because they’re strong engines for the production of teachers of color. That is true for TCUs, tribal universites and colleges, aswell.

I also believe knowing and telling this history is essential for the American dialogue since when we tell a false history and set policy around that false history, or that false cause, our solutions are always off.

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