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The politics of the disappearing Black teachers


Besides an effective economic delivery system, the foundation marks of successful civilizations and nation states are public approval of and continuous work to maintain the society’s governmental structures, and an effective educational system that continually teaches the young to respect and accept those governmental structures.

A sustained failure of either aspect of that duality inevitably brings that society to a bad end. It has happened many times in the past, for those who do not want to accept that principle.

Currently, the U.S.A. is enduring a crisis of confidence both in public respect for the effectiveness of our current form and operation of government, and in educating our youth to believe in the American (U.S.A.) system. The attack by a serious percentage of elected leadership on current public school curricula, and the rage of too many school board parents over badly understood school curricula decisions, if not addressed and corrected, will have a devastating impact on the future of the U.S. as a world power.

Sure, who wins the super-power contests of militancy, currency leverage, supply-chain dominance and the space race will have sway here too. But the real answers are in much simpler terms of improvement.

Either the U.S. does a better job of educating its youth now and in the future, or it can simply ready itself for a long slide into insignificance. How many nukes it has will simply not be that significant.

When politics has taken over public education, those who understand ditch-digging must take the lead to stop digging further. There has always been the narrative in American education that “White people are better and make the best leaders,” so the increased and extreme emphasis on that idea in public education now just seems beside the point. And the book burning? The political pogroms against how children identify themselves, and correcting the historical record on slavery and who won the Civil War?

Already, many good and great teachers in this country, in this state, and in this county/city are deciding to walk away from their professions and to find another way to pay their bills (if the low teaching salaries ever did that, anyway). It is already projected that there will be a major teaching shortage in this country’s public schools by this fall, 2022. The school system leaders in Los Angeles have already announced that as a fact.

And Black teachers, who’ve never been that large a percentage nationwide or statewide (except in the state of Georgia), look like they are going to completely abandon the ship, given the new headaches now loaded onto those they daily already have to deal with in order to teach in our schools.

Nationwide, African-American public school teachers are about 7 percent of the teaching population. That number is sure to decrease by this fall. In California, the percentage is even lower—it is currently 4 percent of public school teachers, or approximately 12,000 teachers.

Part of why this country grew to be great in the post WWII years was because teachers taught the young to be innovative, bold, math-sure, and politically astute. There was never even the thought of a grown American who’d been properly and regularly educated, deciding to run for public office without  knowing as basic knowledge that there were three co-equal branches of government; the U.S.A. is a constitutional republic; the federal government has its authority and states have their authority, etc.

For the record, there are currently at least six candidates for national office (Senate and House) who reportedly did not know any of that. All six are products of our current school system, including California’s, and they think they deserve to be, and are prepared to be, in charge. Some of them are even African-American, which is really embarrassing.

The point is, it is true that we have a number of co-existing existential crises to deal with currently. In making the educational choices we have to make to resolve those, we must know that they are neither Cornelian dilemmas nor Morton’s forks. Instead, they are necessary decisions to save ourselves from ourselves

All of us from a few of us.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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