Education for Liberation!

Black Education for Black Liberation!

Vanishing Black Educators

Fewer Blacks, More Whites Are Hired as City Teachers 


2015 UPDATE On the Disappearance of Black & Latino Teachers in NYC

It's been nearly seven years since we posted the news about the alarming diminishing number of Black & Latino teachers in NYC's public schools. Thus was under Bloomberg's Mayoral Control. And now, under DeBlasio's Mayoral Control the situation is worsening as this Teachers Unite! report exposes. NYC high school teacher, Sean Ahern, and BNYEE along with the Coalition for Public Education (CPE) have been the relentless voices in keeping this crisis in the public eye as much as possible. It now great that Teachers Unite! has stepped in and produced this report that will get even greater media attention and wider dissemination among education activists and parents.

By ELIZABETH GREEN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | September 25, 2008

The percentage of new teachers in New York City public schools who are black has fallen substantially since 2002, dropping to 13% in the last school year from 27% in 2001-02, city figures show.

The change has dramatically altered the racial makeup of the new teacher workforce, which last year included about 400 more white teachers than it did in 2002 and more than 1,000 fewer black teachers.

The overall teaching force has been less affected: Black teachers made up 20% of the workforce in fiscal year 2008, down from 22% in 2001, while the percentage of white teachers has stayed constant at 60%.

The changing demographics come in a school system that is increasingly made up of non-white students.

Educators and advocates said they have been troubled by the data for several years — and they said they are especially troubled this year, the 40th anniversary of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis, in which black community leaders challenged the city to make school staff more representative of the city.

"We want a school system that values educators who are invested in their students and who reflect the communities of which they are part," a member of the Center for Immigrant Families in uptown Manhattan, Donna Nevel, said.

The Department of Education's executive director for teacher recruitment and quality, Vicki Bernstein, said responsibility for the declining diversity lies with a state requirement that all public school teachers be certified by 2003.

The requirement was introduced in 1998, forcing the New York City public schools to scramble; before 2003, 60% of new teacher hires were uncertified, and 15% of the overall teaching corps in the city was not certified.

School officials said the mandate had a chilling effect on diversity, because the state certifies very few black teachers. According to a state report, in the 2006-07 school year, black people made up just 4% of new certified teachers who identified their race.

Ms. Bernstein said that she joins educators who are concerned by the trend.

Since last fall, she said she has made recruiting black and Latino teachers a priority for her staff. She convened a working group to plot ways to raise the city's figures.

She said her strategies so far include visiting historically black colleges to recruit possible teachers; publishing advertisements that focus groups show appeal to black and Latino applicants, and making a concerted effort to follow through with those candidates as they make their way through the application process.

The city has also halted a program to recruit teachers from outside of America and kicked off an initiative to attract teachers who themselves attended city public schools, by offering a special award to new recruits who are city school graduates.

The 50 recipients of the Gotham Graduates Give Back award receive a $1,000 stipend before the start of the school year and are featured in recruitment materials.

"This is a high priority for us," Ms. Bernstein said. "We're looking at it across every level of teacher recruitment."

The techniques were more aggressively instituted in recruiting for the group of teachers who earn certification while teaching, the Teaching Fellows, Ms. Bernstein said.

Those results are showing up. In the 2006-07 school year, 32% of fellows were black or Latino. This year, 37% were, school officials said.

Teaching Fellows make up between 20 and 25% of new teachers in the city, Ms. Bernstein said.
The president of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, said the city should consider another move: encouraging people who are already working in the school system but not as fully certified teachers to become teachers.

"I never want to see the mistakes that were made in the '60s and the '70s," Ms. Weingarten said.
"Just in watching, in being at new teacher events in the last few years, and in just scanning the crowd, I'm really, really concerned."






  • Official name: Temporary Reassignment Centers

  • 7 Centers located throughout the 5 boroughs (*)

  • 637 DOE employees assigned to these Rubber Rooms. There were 750 in 2007 (*)

  • This is “Twice the size” of 2004. (**)

  • Black and Latino teachers are in the majority, in most of the Rubber Rooms, according to Rubber Room teachers


  • $65 million annual cost to taxpayers (*)

  • An incredibly inept administrative procedure:

  1. Accused educators can wait four months for investigators to interview witnesses and decide whether or not to bring formal charges(**)

  2. Educators must then wait nine months for a hearing (**)

  3. Then wait six months for a decision (**)

  4. A total of nineteen months; yet, many have languished in the Rubber Rooms for years

  • The reason is that:

  1. There are only 23 arbitrators approved by both the union and the DOE ((*)

  2. Their salary is $1, 800, a day (*)

  3. They work five times a month, during the school year (*)

  4. They work two days a month, during the summer(*)



Sources: (*) N.Y. Post; Sunday, June 28, 2009; page 20; Angela Montefinise

(**) N.Y. Daily News; Sunday, May 4, 2009; Erin Einhorn


Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators!

I agree that the blindness on race and the teaching profession in NYC is unfortunate but it might be more to the point to call it an enforced, willful, and  endemic blindness that gets worse the higher up the feeding chain you go.   

It falls to school based educators and parent activists at the bottom of this chain to break through the conspiracy of  silence and inaction that prevails at education grad schools, the NYSED, DOE and the leadership of the UFT regarding the disappearing Black and Latino educators in NYC.    

Hiring is DOE policy, it's nepotism, prejudice, divide and control.  It's politics, choice, ideology, history.  Hiring at the DOE is a human decision, not an outcome determined by an act of God, the invisible hand of some market force, or genetic  predisposition. Let's bring some accountability to the hiring and firing decisions that are being made under mayoral control. Accountability starts first with placing the facts before our colleagues and raising the demand to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.  

The first thing is to extract from the DOE and the Teaching Fellows their protocols and guidelines used to select candidates.  It doesn't just happen that young whites from private colleges get picked and young Black Latinos and Asians and whites from CUNY get passed over. There is a race and class bias at work here and I believe it can be shown to exist not merely as habit or blind prejudice, but as conscious policy of the Teaching Fellows who receive many millions of tax payer dollars to implement what is a de facto affirmative hiring plan for whites in a system that is 85% Black Latino and Asian.

Contracting out provides deniability and lets the Mayor and Chancellor prattle on about leading a civil rights reform of education.

The UFT is so fat with agency shop fees and dues checkoff, so muddle headed, stuck in the past apologizing and defending its own shameful Shankerite legacy that it can't do justice to this blatant chicanery even when the bullet is heading straight for its own pea sized brain..This is the death of educator unionism if the disappearing is permitted to continue unopposed by the leadership and  rank and file educators.  No union can effectively defend living, working and learning conditions apart from solidarity within and without  the Black, Latino and Asian communities that comprise the large majority of the working class and the students in NYC public schools. Its labor solidarity 101, as basic to unionism as the three R's are to schooling.  

The most recent statistics on NYC teachers and race that I have seen are from 2007-2008 and were obtained from the DOE by  Elizabeth Green in the course of preparing her article: "Fewer Blacks, More Whites Are Hired as City Teachers" ( NY SUN September 25, 2008).  

The story on the disappearing or 'whitening' is not new. The UFT has printouts from Eva Moscowitz dating from  2003 when she was chair of the ed committee of the city council which show the trend early on.  Its not like no one knows in the leadership knows what is happening,its just not a priority. White labor leaders for the most part don't seem to feel that an injury to one is an injury to all.  "Solidarity Forever" is just a song they sing at gatherings.  (Maybe that's why we don't have a union movement or working class party in this country)  

The Amsterdam News carried an  article August 31,  2006 entitled "Report finds recruitment of Black teachers failing in NYC schools" by Tanangachi Mfuni. The data Mfuni  obtained from the DOE was by disseminated by Sam Anderson from BNYEE and Sally Lee from Teachers Unite.  The UFT could easily have been the whistle blower here and taken a step to unite the members and parent and community activists, giving back and receiving ten fold.  

The data obtained by Elizabeth Green updates the pattern which continues along the same downward trajectory.  The most recent stats include two spread sheets.  The larger one, "Ethnicity of New Hires" disaggregates new hires by race for each year from 1990 -91 through  2007-2008. The other smaller  spread sheet is entitled "Ethnicity (All Teachers)." All of these statistics were presented to Bill Perkins at a public hearing and are posted here on the BNYEE website (look under "testimony").

"Ethnicity of New Hires" attests to a dramatic decline (42% 2001 to 2008) in new Black and Latino teachers hired under mayoral control. New hires is a leading indicator. The second spread sheet, "Ethnicity (All Teachers)" disaggregates the total work force by race and shows a much smaller total decline in the percentage of Black and Latin educators  than one would expect if the rates of turnover between the groups were equal. 

Hmm. Why?

According to the numbers offered by the DOE, the totals for all teachers have changed only moderately:

•  African Americans down 2%,

•  Asians up 2%

•  and whites and Hispanic down only a small fraction  of 1%

•  Between 2001 and 2008 white new hires went from 53.3% to 66%.  This increase of 12.7 percentage points represents a rate of increase of 24%.

•  During the same period Black new hires went from 27.2% to 12.8% this decline of  14.6 percentage points represents a rate of decrease of 53.7%.

How is it that the leading indicators have so little impact on  the "Ethnicity (All Teachers)" spread sheet?  More than 49,000 teachers were hired during these years, more than half of the entire teaching force. What is going on?

Here is a working hypothesis. The DOE may be hiring whites over Blacks and Latinos, but the Blacks and Latinos and Asians are staying, and the whites are moving out as fast as they come in. In any normal business operation, if I contracted out to a company to hire workers and most of the workers this company was bringing in left after a few years I might ask Why am I paying this company tens of millions of dollars to hire people who leave after two or three years? 

The point? 

Bloomberg are not trying to run the system, they are producing failure to pave the way for privatization in the Black and Latino communities. They are not privatizing the privileged system within a system that contains world class schools and programs which sort and select by race and class.. Teaching fellows is not failing, they are doing just what the boss wants them to do. 

 Some will say its a mute point with the budget freeze and no hiringwill take place for the forseable future, but this is a ruse, hiring will go on in  140 new charters they just voted to open, existing charters, and it will continue in the public schools as well. The white privileged kids leave after slumming for a few years, senior  teachers are being pushed out, NYC already has the largest class size in the state.

The DOE  will  hire after they and the UFT leadership  have exhausted the layoff issue as a bargaining ploy in the UFT contract. But who will DOE hire and will the rank and file educators and teacher activists awaken to their strategic interest in advancing solidarity and demand:

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators!

Cancel the contract with the Teaching fellows Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators!

Abolish mandatory state certification.

Sean Ahern
Parent and teacher