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Ivory Toldson, PhD: Do Black Kids Struggle Because Their Teachers Don’t Look Like Them?

by Dr. Ivory Toldson

Recently, the media reported that Florida and Virginia are attempting to close the “achievement gap” by setting different performance standards for black and white students. These controversial and misguided proposals demonstrate a dreadfully shortsighted assessment of race and achievement in the United States. Instead of dealing with the complicated racial nuances that shape black students’ classroom experiences, Florida and Virginia are flirting with the idea of “lowering the bar” for black students, and by association, their teachers.

The recently ended Chicago teachers’ strike highlighted the challenges of defining teacher effectiveness in the U.S. Although teaching in Chicago involves significant cross-cultural interactions between teachers and students, racial issues in the classroom were rarely discussed in the media or among school leaders. In Chicago, the preschool through 12th-grade student population is only 15 percent white (9 percent in public schools), yet the Chicago teaching force is 53 percent white. Blacks and Hispanics comprise more than 80 percent of Chicago schoolchildren, yet they make up only 40 percent of the teaching force.

Black students in Chicago are being suspended and arrested at a rate that greatly exceeds their representation in the student body. Earlier this year, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education estimated that police made 2,546 school-based arrests (75 percent black) between September 2011 and February 2012 in Chicago. According to the Civil Rights Data Collection Report, black students account for 76 percent (pdf) of students who are suspended in Chicago public schools, yet they only represent 45 percent of the student body.

In a perfect world, the race of a teacher would matter no more than the race of a physician. However, research evidence suggests that cultural differences between teachers and students may account for key differences between the schooling experiences of black and white students. (Details on that research follow on the next page.) Some school advocates suspect that teachers who lack cultural proficiency may relate to black and Hispanic students in a manner that undermines their potential.

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10 Responses to Ivory Toldson, PhD: Do Black Kids Struggle Because Their Teachers Don’t Look Like Them?

  1. ELIZABETH Reply

    October 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I BELIEVE THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHILDREN. ALSO, WE NEED MORE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE TEACHERS IN MINORITY NEIGHBORHOODS.

    I HEARD A LOT OF WHITE TEACHERS WANT TO TEACH IN MINORITY NEIGHBORHOODS BECAUSE THEY GET CREDIT TOWARDS THEIR STUDENT LOANS. THIS CREDIT IS NOT GIVEN TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO TEACH IN THE “SO CALLED HOOD”, SHAMEFUL!

    CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, IT WOULD BE NICE TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE STUDENT LOAN ISSUE!

    • Adrienne Reply

      February 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Elizabeth, I know two teachers , one White, the other Hispanic, working at an all Black schools, who I believe is only there to get their student loans reduce; both are drunks and shouldn’t be teaching dogs. How in the hell are they able to get away with this is mind blowing. Our children are suffering because of a racist school system and racist teachers who doesn’t give a damn about their education. I’ve encountered racist teachers in my children’s schools but I let them know that my people built this country and I nor my children will be intimidated by them or their Jim Crow system. But Black educators are the ones who I also despise for allowing this to happen because they are busy kissing tails and trying to fit in.

  2. PB Short Reply

    October 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Black kids do not do good in school because they do not do their homework, and they do not study…

  3. jimmydeanbakker Reply

    October 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    If a kid isn’t reading at least two hours a day outside of his normal school work, he will be behind.

  4. Toni Reply

    October 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I ATTENDED AN ALL BLACK SCHOOL, ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL AND I THINK THAT SOME OF THE TEACHERS SHOWED PREDJUDICE TO STUDENTS WHEN THEY WERE POOR AND DID NOT LEARN AS FAST AS SOME OF THE OTHERS. THESE WERE ALL BLACK TEACHERS AND SOME OF THEM WERE CRUEL & INSENSITIVE.

    I, TURNED OUT TO BE A LAW ABIDING CITIZEN IWTH A GOOD CAREER SO, SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WERE TAUGHT TO ME GOOD, BAD OR UGLY I AM OKAY

  5. cathy dale Reply

    October 25, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for your research. I concur that it is a problem for our children when taught by young predominately white women. We are the only race of people who allow other people to teach our children.
    I volunteer on the Local School Council of an elementary and high school in Chicago. I see the indifference these teachers have toward our children and the low expectations they have of our children, the cultural misunderstanding of our children and yes, many of these teachers get their loans forgiven if they teach a number of years in an Urban school.

  6. lester L. Washington, Bth, MA, M.ED., ABD, LCGC Reply

    October 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Dr. Toldson:

    Nice article and congrats on making the site. It is called Academic and Educational Homicide but is some cases is not intentional. I am still in Colorado adn life is great, making a lot of progress, and yes, you set the bar high for us as a Professor at Southern University Baton Rouge!! Thanks You. I’ learned enough to write 50 books and will start churning them out soon, with or without a PHD due to some unforseen circumstances. Life is fair in Colorado and hope to collaborate with you soon but if not you can read about it.

    Peace,

    Lester L. Washington, Bth, MA, M.ED., LCGC, ABD
    CSU FT. COLLINS PHD CANDIDATE
    Southern University MA and M.ED. Graduate 1998 and 2001 under Dr. Toldson
    Tenured & Lifetime Certified Guidance Counselor, State of Louisiana, License # 05143;
    Past President of EBRPAE Teachers Union / Association
    P.O. Box 494, Ft. Collins, CO 80522 (all mail)
    Phone (Cell) 225-205-1960,
    Primary Email: llwashing@hotmail.com

  7. elena Reply

    December 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Hello, I am elenadion,
    How are you? hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health. Please I went through your profile and i read it and took interest in it, please if you don’t mind i will like you to write me on this ID ( elenadion62@yahoo.com ) hope to hear from you soon, and I will be waiting for your mail because i have something VERY important to tell you.
    Lots of love
    elena.

  8. Adrienne Reply

    February 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I’m sick of seeing my children taught by teachers who I believe are racist and don’t care about Black children. I’m also tired of sorry Black educators sitting back kissing ass trying to fit in knowing Black children are being taught by racist teachers and a racist system. Where are the Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubmans? Coward Black people makes me sick

  9. CompleteYourStylewithGlamorous Reply

    March 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

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