Emmanuel Felton of The Hechinger Report has penned a piece about the struggle in New Orleans to find “more black and homegrown teachers.” According to the piece, the number of education degrees being given out by New Orleans universities has plummeted since Hurricane Katrina. Kristi Walton is an award-winning veteran teacher from New Orleans who sees her local roots as an asset to her teaching; she thinks she’s better in the classroom because of them. And there’s a very good chance, based on the research, that she is right.
And based on my own experience back in the day, she is right. I remember teachers warning me, ‘you know I’ll call ya mama’ because all my teachers actually knew my mother. They knew my family. And I knew Ms. Smith was not playing because she was a teacher that I had known for years. I could talk to her about anything and that was a comfort to me. I knew she had my back and could relate to me just like I could relate to her. I saw myself reflected in her.
“Across the country, many urban school districts are recognizing that they need to hire teacher workforces that better reflect the diversity of their students. The academic benefits to students of having a same-race teacher have been well documented. Beyond serving as role models, these teachers are better able to make lessons culturally relevant and often have an easier time building relationships with students and parents. In New Orleans, 89 percent of public school students are black and many of the white teacher newcomers have struggled to connect with students.”
To read the full piece at The Hechinger Report, click here.