Friday, June 5, 2009

Teachers flee black schools - study shows they did in Charlotte

The best teachers tend to leave their schools when the schools see an an influx of black students, a new Cornell University study shows. And the study, published in the Journal of Labor Economics, was based on what happened in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools when CMS ended its long-running policy of busing to keep schools racially diverse. That policy ended after a parents sued CMS over race-based policies, and a federal judge in 1999 ruled they should no longer be used. In 2001, an appeals court largely upheld that ruling. In 2002, CMS launched a plan that assigned most students to schools near their homes - creating several schools that were overwhelmingly black.


Between 2002 and 2003, Cornell labor economics professor C. Kirabo Jackson studied patterns of teacher movement in CMS, and found that the best teachers - whites and blacks - left schools in response to a large influx of African American students. Jackson didn't say his research showed the teachers didn't like black students, but that when the make-up of the school changed, "teachers reacted in this way." He said teachers could have been moving for convenience to be closer to their homes, for higher salaries, or for a particular type of student such as high achievers.


But he said the impact was the same as researchers have found in other studies - that high-minority schools (which are also often high-poverty schools) have a harder time attracting and keeping the best teachers. That, he said, has impact on how well students are taught and how much academic progress they make. And it should factor into discussions of policy issues such as vouchers, school choice, district consolidations and busing changes that reshuffle students across schools.


What do you think?

32 comments:

MTB said...

It seems misleading at best to frame this as a racial story. The teachers left not directly because of more black kids, but becuase of schools filled with kids with no respect for learning or authority. It's attitude, not race.

I'd wager that most of these relocated teachers would jump at the chance to teach at an all black school filled with motivated kids who genuinely want to better themselves and their communities.

darkferi said...

Why is this a surprise or something considered 'news worthy'? Of course they left. Have you ever tried teaching in these kinds of schools? You're not just dealing with the student... it's the entire lack of respect for authority and learning that comes with them. Not to mention the proclivity for violence. Why would a qualified teacher WANT to waste their time trying to teach kids who have absolutely NO interest in learning?

Andrew said...

I graduated from West Charlotte in 1999 right before all of this happened, so I have a pretty good idea of what went on.

First, at the same time that busing was virtually ended two new high schools (Butler and Vance) were opening. The opportunity to teach closer to their homes and with largely brand new materials, resources, etc. proved to be a big lure for most of the very good teachers.

Second, if these inner city schools are also the ones with the most problems academically and behaviorally why would a great teacher choose to stay when a better enviornment for learning exists elsewhere? This has less to do with race than teachers wanting to be teachers rather than babysitters for problem children.

BLACKSPEAK said...

The first paragraph of this story completely sums up the issue. I submit that the influx of northerns (probably from Boston of NE), have a lot to do with ending the facial diversity enjoyed in CMS since 1967. Charlotte was one the few southern school districts with the fewest if any problems with school busing to achieve school desegregation. In fact a group of CMS students travelled to Boston in 1970 to meet with parents in BOSTON, MASS, to let them know how the CMS achieved school desegregation, with any problems. Boston looked like Mississippi during the 1970. As soon as northerners started moving south in the 80s and 90s, things changed in the CMS.

Cal said...

On Wednesday I attended my 8th grader's graduation from Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a school for academically gifted children. There were 21 graduates, most of which had garnered local, regional and state honors in a variety of academic competitions. Students who WANT to learn, LOVE to excel, RESPECT (even adore) their teachers. Guess how many of their teachers would prefer teaching somewhere else? ZERO!

Jill said...

I am a teacher in economically disadvantaged school where every year more and more African Americans move into the district. I am disappointed to say that each year my job has gotten more and more challenging. This was my worst year. The majority of my black students were so much more disrespectful and unwilling to learn. Their parents were very much part of the problem, not providing the kind of home support or home discipline when the student misbehaves at school. This year I said something I felt so horrible about but it is true. I plan on leaving this school and look for a job in a school where the students are predominately white and middle class. I went to school and got a degree in education to reach young minds that appreciate education, not to stop fights and get disrespected.
I will miss my good black students because I do have many that are respectful and want to learn but unfortunately there is not enough of them to make me stay. I hope that the black culture as a whole can begin to instill in their children respect for their teachers and appreciation for their schools.

Ann said...

It's so true, the teachers can only do so much, the parents really need to be stressing at home the importance of education and respecting authority, ie the teachers. It's so sad to hear from my daughter about the same kids getting in trouble on a regular basis, how are teachers supposed to teach!?

Phillip said...

I agree the story was "sensationalized" to slant it toward a racial angle. Fact is, the kids could be purple or green, and if they come from low-socionomic backgrounds and underperform as students, the teachers are not going to find working with them as fulfilling as they would be with higher-achieving students. Same pay, a lot more hassle. Not worth it.

M. Denise said...

Some of the comments on this board are really ignorant. First of all, there are no green or purple children. Secondly, you cannot even imagine the type of problems that exist in suburban schools; their issues just don't make the news. I was in a suburban (mostly White) school where there were physical fights, wanna-be gangsters, and disrespectful children. The reason teachers flee has more to do with their lack of classroom management skills, rather than what students do! If teachers command respect, they get respect.

Mary said...

Schools with a lot of black students have problems with discipline.

bruced said...

The magic word that gets left out in most of these conversations is "culture." Of course not all poor, black kids are poor students. But the culture to which most of these kids belong, unfortunately, is the disrespect-authority, anti-achievement, "gangster" culture.

Race and wealth are factors, but culture is the biggest one of all.

Disgusted said...

I am a teacher in a predominantly African American AND Hispanic school in CMS. Our school is 50% African American, 40 % Hispanic, 5% Asian (mostly non-english speakers) and 5% white. The PROBLEM is not that the students are black or purple, and it is not ignorant either to assess these schools based on race. When I look at my classroom and I am the only white person in it, there is a problem. Charlotte's population is not 50% African American and 40% Hispanic. We can all take a walk downtown and see that. Poverty is not a color issue. However, where are the white poverty kids in my school? Why is it that Charlotte County Club is less than 2 miles from my school, yet none of those kids attend my school? They attend a school 15 miles away. Why is it that my school has five less teachers than it NEEDS to have so that my class sizes were 50 to a class? In consequence, my school had to be split into A/B day to accommodate the numbers. Why is it that my school has no resources, PAPER being the largest lacking, while Audrey Kell and Myers Park don't seem to have that problem? Why is it that my school has no Promethian Boards, Smart Boards, Projectors, Computers in the classrooms, or HEAT in our classrooms during the winter!?!?! Why is it that even though we have complained several times this year, our classrooms are 40 degrees, yet nothing is done to fix the problem? We are only criticized for complaining in this adverse economy. Why is it that several students of mine had to drop out to support their families this year and be called rejects and failures, while others are driving home in their BMWs?

proudteacher said...

I am honored to say that i am a teacher at a predominately black and hispanic high school. I personally believe that if a teacher tucks their tail between their legs and runs when they experience a culture that is different from what brings them so called success, then they are not a true teacher. I am also proud to say that i have taught poverty students (white, black, hispanic, asian, polk-a-dot) and have brought them far beyond CMS's standard average (and that average includes all of the affluent parents who send their child to school thinking that money can teach and solve every problem). Any teacher who would rather teach in an affluent school is wasting tax payer's money. The best teachers are the ones who stay at those "low performing, disrespectful, poverty schools". They are the ones who truly make a difference when they take a student who is already condemned by society as a disrespectful, disgraceful, poor child who will never amount to anything and turn them into a responsible adult who can make a difference. These kids can look past color and socio-economic status (meaning the huge gap between the rich and the poor) and be valuable in our society. Valuable not because they are now like everyone else, but because they remember what it was like to be at the bottom and work their way up. Have you ever REALLY walked a mile in someone else's shoes. To those who teach along with me, STAND PROUD that we do not succumb to this ignorance.

VenusSerena said...

I teach at a school that is majority black and I teach students that are motivated, excited, and parents that teach their children right from wrong.

You want to know the major difference? Ninety five percent of the students in my class come from homes where they are not economically disadvantaged.

I am at a magnet school which is quickly turning into a safe haven for middle and upper class African Americans to stay away from their home schools where the free/reduced lunch rate is over 90%.

Once you factor poverty into the situation, the students almost always have worse behavior, less of a respect of education, and parents that could care less except to get upset at the school when for some "odd" reason their child gets in trouble at school.

It has nothing to do with race - it's money.

Kelly said...

I think the issue is leadership in the schools-from teachers as well as Administration. We should still have high expectations for ourselves, students, and parents. I teach and have taught in high poverty schools with predominantly minorities. I see and feel the mistrust of me, a white teacher, in THEIR school. Charlotte needs to get beyond the racial community barriers before the racial barriers are fixed within schools. Parents are free to pick and choose their schools, both public and private. Teachers don't need to look like our students to be successful, but some administrators think so. A teacher, parent, and student must have the heart and desire to reach for something more...We are in a society of quick fixes and easy answers. If a child has problems, a parent is quick to blame the school or teacher. Kids blame the adults and take no responsibility as the adults blame each other. When we realize we are all on the same team, education will get better. Social engineering and money is not the answer. However, a teacher should be certified and highly qualified in the subject area :) And, yes, a living wage with good insurance is a bonus!

Lew said...

rude, crude, ignorant behavior will always drive decent people away. I have watched the cycle since the first year of busing in Charlotte, nothing has changed...you can't force some things - birds of a feather...

dbyers said...

Some people in NC do believe in teaching kids still:

http://flash.unctv.org/ncnow/ncn_gaston_college_051209.html

John Keels said...

Well, I post a lot on the observer forums. However, I am not a teacher. So I cannot say much.

However, I think the problem starts at home. Both from the example the parents set and what they expect of their children.

Somehow, you almost have to teach the parents first what they should be doing and knowing.

I admire teachers who stay in such environments and make a difference. That is difficult and what do you all do with the problems these kids have at home where everything starts?

y said...

In my opinion there is some truth to the assumption that black children do not value education as a means of self improvement. As a black male that grew up in SW Charlotte (South Meck class of 97'), I did notice that I was often 1 of a handful of minority students in classes that were deemed academically challenging. However, I also remember that my mother had to fight to get me into programs like "AG" and "AP" even though my grades and test scores were on par with the non-black students that got accepted into those programs. However, i disagree with the comments that suggest that white students behave better than non-white students. I recently finished grad school at a university in Arizona where +80% of the students are white. I had the opportunity to be a TA for some undergrad classes where at least 1/2 of the students spent 90%of class time either texting, surfing Facebook, or playing video games on the computer while a professor was lecturing. So, to me it is misleading to suggest that white students behave better than non-white students. There are misbehaving students in all races, not just blacks and latinos.

bill said...

It has probably been said, but honestly, the problem isn't kids, it is parents. I want my children going to school with other children - of all colors and ethnicities - who have parents who really do care about school. Too many don't, and it shows. Why would you want to teach somewhere that is going to be miserable? Would you want your own children to go there? I am a principal and a father, and I don't want my kids missing out on a good education because other children's parents don't teach them to listen, be respectful, and care about learning. It's really not the kids fault, but the truth is that I want my children in the best school, and to me it doesn't matter if it has no African Americans, or all African Americans. Bottom line I want the best.

mcc said...

There is a very easy and effective way to make a difference with the children in these schools. Every Thursday I invest 30 minutes in the life of a 4th grade young man who is a student in an inner city, high poverty school. I am called a "lunch buddy." I pray that I will be a friend and encourager to my young friend through his high school years, if not beyond. All it takes to get started is a phone call to the school. I challenge everyone reading this discussion to make a difference personally. If each of us made a difference in the life of one student, not only would the young people be encouraged and uplifted, so would the teachers! Please--make a phone call.

Larry said...

As one of the original students to be bused from Myers Park to West Charlotte back in the early 70's and then to go back and volunteer up until last year, I can attest that these teachers leaving are correct and just.

First the challenged schools have two classes. Those for those few kids who really want to learn and the majority go to the baby sitting classes.

The kids who want to float through school like ghosts, parents want to blame the schools but not one of them can tell you what classes and the names of their children's teachers.

But they know the principal and the staff in the front office because they come and complain their poor child was held in detention or the like. Almost never do they ask, "what can I do to help?" just how can I get him or her out of trouble, or the really fun ones who say their child is not responsible etc.

Then you get grandiose Principals who come and go who when they are caught knowing about a sports cheating scandal only get a slap on their wrist and then eventually get a better job in another school system needing somebody to handle their challenged schools.

Mix in the politically correct school system, school board and of course the cheerleaders called the news media and everybody wants these schools to feel good. What about actually teaching? What about following a few of the so called "graduates" with these "diplomas" from these schools? Yes you will find successes from the group who learned but what about the majority who will just float from one bad job to another until they go to CPCC who cleans up more academic mess from our schools than you can imagine.

We are now in worst shape than ever before as we hid and let hide those students who apparently never wanted to learn in the first place.

What happened to trade schools? Not everybody wants to go or can go to College just out of High School. Why not work at a trade to build up cash to go?

Back when I graduated I loved West Charlotte and it became a premier school in Charlotte for years. But now everybody want to get busing back. Wait now are you going to get those white students from other counties, because we now have only about 38 percent white kids in the schools system. So that failed program is dead and in fact hurt those it intended to help more than anyone can imagine. We are seeing the devastation today.

Larry said...

By the way does anybody else know the fastest growing group of home schooled?

If you answered African American then you are correct.

Today it is called Bright Flight in the school system.

Until we get somebody like me on the Editorial Board of the Observer (I will work for free) then we will only get these type of stories which are throwing gas on the fire, a lot of noise and then nothing happening. All designed to be a history of just how the Observer tried and tried. Let's get past the politically correct and get kids a FUTURE!!!!!

G.H. said...

Root Cause... There is where the problem lies. Its how children are taught and raised in the HOME that affects how they present themselves in public. When I was in Jr. High in south Charlotte in the late 70's, we had rubberband fights in the halls, we picked on each other, shoved each other into lockers, and even carried pocket knives IN SCHOOL. Did we have stabbings? Not that I know of. Shootings? Not that I can recall. Did we respect our teachers? HELL YES!! If you didnt, that wooden or plexiglass paddle either the teacher or principal staff had would WEAR YOU OUT.

The problem today is there is no fear of punishment for doing something wrong. You teachers have no authority. School officials have no authority. Parents are scared to punish their child for fear of being taken to court for child abuse or having their kids taken away. A child who does wrong is at most going to be told "Go home and dont come back for XXX Days". Just what they want in the first place. Their parents probably work, so no one is home to supervise them and they can roam the streets to their hearts content.

The liberals in todays society have taken away all usable forms of punishment from those who need it and what we have now is a generation of people who have no respect for their Elders, for authority, or anyone else for that matter. You spank your kid for doing something wrong in Walmart, and 3 people will be on the phone to Social Services in a heartbeat claiming you are abusing your kid.

My generation (Born in the 1960's) was taught to respect animals, our Elders, other people, and things not belonging to use, OR ELSE. Today, there is no "or else" and the kids know it. Who can blame the teachers who work long hard hours for undercompensation who get frustrated and want to go someplace where they feel they can make a difference in a childs life? There are Black Americans (I have met only a few WHITE African Americans, from South Africa by the way) and White Americans who are scum and trash and have no reason to be loose on the streets, and by the same token, there are many AMERICANS of varying skin color who have the morals and ideals that my generation does, and who actually give a damn that they have a good education, care about what they do, and care about others.

But it all comes down to the Root Cause, How we were/are raised in the home. Get rid of the "African", "Japanese", "Korean", "Other nationality here" titles and call them what they are, AMERICANS. That would go a long way to removing the issue of RACE in any conversation. Teach the children the Morals of our parents, grandparents, and us, and life would be a whole lot better with less problems.

David said...

Way too many variables to pin this on students and race. Many teachers leave schools because of failed leadership at the Admin / Prin.. For example in working at Dub C for 4 years I worked under 19 different administrators and 3 principals (4 year period). The antics of the BOE and Central Office drve this school into the ground. They simply did not allow for any stability and as a result drove out teachers. NOT KIDS and Race but politics and failed leadership.

Besty said...

I have been a teacher for almost fifteen years (seven years in CMS). I have taught in every type of school from the affluent school were the average home price was upwards of $350K and kids walked to school because it was in the neighborhood to the Title 1 high poverty school (95% free or reduced lunch). I have even taught at schools that are in the middle.

I have to say that I disagree with one of the bloggers that said if you command respect you get it. That doesn't always work anymore. These kids today have absolutely no healthy fear of authority. Public Schools have fostered a culture of "the kid is right and the parents are right." The teacher...usually the only one with a degree in the bunch...must be the culprit. Principals are often walking on egg shells. Teachers are afraid that they'll get sued. It's time we took back our schools. I think it's high time we rounded up those causing problems and inconvenienced their parents every day. Calls, letters, carrier pigeon, messenger pony...whatever it takes to get our point across that this type of behavior is a detriment to the school.

I think what we are seeing in our schools is a direct reflection of the total breakdown in society. Parents are unavailable (black and white). Kids are left to their own devices.

My mom AND dad (and they were even married...Imagine that!) used to discipline me and say, "We don't want to you to grow up like a weed." The problem is that many children (especially black children) today ARE growing up like weeds. The lack of disrespect is a direct correlation to the time, attention, and investment that parents put in. People need to wake up!

I find it very embarrassing as a married, African-American woman with a family to see this type of behavior in schools. The African-American community/culture often sends messages that smart is not "cool." Well, I wish someday smart could be cool again. People just don’t have pride in themselves anymore.

I don't think this is necessarily a "racial" issue, this is a cultural issue. We have seen this "wannabe gangster" culture permeate our society and no one seems to know how to stop it. This mess began in the black community and it's time to pull up some boot straps and get it together. People died for the rights that we have today and I am consistently horrified by how people act. Wake up! Close ranks…stop robbing, stealing and generally acting like fools. Black folks make up roughly 13% of the population, but cause 90% of the problems. These statistics are true for society as well as in our schools. Why?

Stepping down off soapbox...

charlottean said...

I would be willing to bet that these teachers aren't fleeing black students, they are fleeing students whose parents aren't involved, whose parnets blame the teachers for every problem and never assuem any responsibility for their children and who don't participate at alny level. The biggest determinant for success isn't race, it's parental support. The teacher complaining about the lack of supplies at her school needs to look at whether there is an active PTA at her school- there is at the schools she mentioned that have supplies. Parental involvment would increase the students accountability, motivation and ultimately their success.

BRNC said...

Most of you people posting on here, and who post on blogs all day and everyday seem to forget that we are not that far removed from a time where a certain group of people were denied the opportunity to learn to read or write period, then denied the opportunity to learn to read or write only in certain places (black only schools and colleges) This was done with the intention of keeping them at a certain level in society, and dependent forever. This denial of education and many other rights was allowed to go on for many years as law in the south coming out of slavery. What you have to first understand is that many of these kids' descendants of those great grandparents, and grandparents, and parents who were denied those rights. There were many who overcame those obstacles and did whatever they had to do to make a way and get an education and pass that on to their children who in turn passed it on to their children. At the same time there are many more that may not have had that same motivation, as we know everyone is not born with the same determination as a Bill Gates, or Tiger Woods. The fact is that my grandmother cannot teach my mother something that she was denied, and my mother cannot teach me, and I cannot teach my kids, and we are just not far enough removed and still have parents left over from that time. Do not get me wrong, that does not excuse everyone, some people know and just will not get it regardless of how far removed we are, but it has nothing to do with race because many who do not have that history of being denied equal opportunities participate in some of the same activities. If you take 10 black cats and you deny them the right to read, but 1 learns to read anyway, look at all those black cats who cannot read. If you take 10 white cats and they all have the opportunity to read, but 5 learn to read and 6 learn to read and 4 do not you have 60 percent of a positive for one group and only 10 percent positive for another group. The bottom line is I agree with the teachers on here it is easy to teach a kid whose grandparents were taught the importance of education, and passed it on to his parents and they passed it on. It is a little more difficult to teach a kid who does not have that background. I also agree with the fact that there is a certain group of parents out there that need to step it up, stop all of the unnecessary activities and focus on what your kids are doing, even if you are still struggling to overcome adversity from a system that is not perfect as we are now seeing, and has never been close to perfect for (all, black and white) those on the lower end of the economic ladder, and at one time was flat out against one group achieving anything.

Tom said...

I recently left my job as a teacher in a CMS high school that was almost evenly split among blacks, whites and Hispanics. I taught general classes and therefore had a little bit of everything in the classroom.

First, we need to stop saying that teachers leave because they see black students. That is not true. Many of my best, most dedicated, most excellent students were college-bound black kids. They came from ordinary middle-class families, or from poor families who had the ambition to live a good life. I would go back to teach them in a heartbeat because they brought so much joy to the classroom.

But they are a tiny minority within a minority. The real problem is not race but behavior. The idea that you can "command respect" from a gangsta is absurd. You have no idea what you're dealing with. These are kids, from all races, who have no fear of authority -- they would rather fight a police officer than sit in a classroom. And they will provoke that kind of situation as an escape. You're telling me you can "command" that kind of kid to sit down and do math problems... I'd love to see you try.

Real life is not like the movies. Some kids really are bad apples. And when that becomes the majority, it's time to leave.

Kit said...

We are a community and we can't just turn our faces away from the problem. Why is the majority of the black community rejecting the school system and don't see education as a path to success.

Has anyone looked at what we are teaching black students and students of color in the schools? White supremacy in the textbooks and the language so they need to 'protect' themselves from the message so they don't get destroyed or assimilated. Please reevaluate the curriculum that we are teaching as fact. People of color are always an object and a destroyed class. I want the success stories and the heroes as well. Black people don't just equal slavery and we need to teach kids that as well.

I don't want my 'white' kids taught to only see the degradation and slavery of african americans as the only info about people of color so I'm pretty sure that black parents don't like it at ALL.

Pennie said...

Everything is not about race-, How about parents start respecting themselves so they can teach their children to have respect for their selves and respect for others. This downhill of disrespect started when the right to discipline your child was taken away by places like Youth and Family Services, and other places that frown upon a good ole butt kicking when you get out of line. If the kids do not respect their parents, what makes you think they will have any respect for a teacher or anyone else? Teachers are there to teach, not replace the job of a parent.

As a society we don’t respect teachers either, they are the lowest paid for a job that is so important; teaching the leaders of the future –your kids. So instead of pointing the finger at the kids, (all kids, African America, Hispanic, Asian, and White), start taking a good look at you – the PARENT, and start there.

teach said...

This article and the comments are extremely appalling. I am a veteran educator and have taught a diverse group of children throughout my career. The thing that impacts the students' behavior the most is the school structure and the teacher's classroom management. Furthermore, of course a student's socio-economic status will impact the WAY they learn, but not their ability to learn. I am new to Charlotte and I am disappointed that this paper will sum up years of research in 3 paragraphs. I am also disappointed that so many educators on this blog have made ignorant blanket statements about Black children. I love teaching Black children and will continue to teach and encourage them to achieve at high levels. I will teach them that despite living in a country in which sooooo many people (including their teachers) have low-expectations and think negatively about them, that they are just as smart, talented, and important than anyone.

To my fellow educators - I know there are challenging students, classes, and schools. However, that's everywhere and it has very little to do with race. Maybe it's time for you to step out of your comfort zone and change your approach with you students. There are tons of best-practices and research that will help you better manage your classroom. Or maybe it's time that you change your profession...