A March 26 front page article in the Orange County Register bemoaned the fact that too few black and Latino males become teachers in the California public schools in proportion to Caucasian men and women. It didn’t mention Asian male teachers, but painted minority teachers as “people of color” as if Caucasians don’t come in many shades of skin tone. The article claimed that many minority males are hesitant to enter teaching as they think teaching in the K-12 public schools is primarily a female profession.
The column went on to mention that most public school teachers in California and the Southland are Caucasian men and women. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has discussed this issue before, while state and university initiatives have been drawn up to remedy this alleged “inequity.” The state aims to recruit, train, and retain greater numbers of minority group teachers. California State University–Fullerton is one of several universities taking on this proposal.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with encouraging high school and university students to pursue education careers as well as STEM professions. However, if you dig deeper, you find that these initiatives have little to do with equality of opportunity, but rather are an attempt to check off boxes in order to attain government-driven “equity” quotas. Sometimes initial good intentions can end up with biased outcomes.
Moreover, the article assumed that minority teachers want to instruct students who look like them, and students want teachers who look like them. This takes for granted that these minorities have shared life experiences. What kind of objective research was carried out to arrive at this conclusion? Don’t most parents and students hope for teachers who are qualified and possess the temperament to educate their children regardless of ethnicity, gender, or race?
This reality came to the forefront during the pandemic when parents demanded more input into the curriculum content being taught. Most parents objected to the focus on critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and transgender ideologies to the detriment of civics and other rigorous core courses. They also opposed the promotion of Marxist theories in the classroom.
A participant holds up a sign during a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools, at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va., on June 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Some parents questioned the over-emphasis on district, site, and state tests that align with the factory model of education. Despite this emphasis, math and reading test scores are in the cellar in this state. Indeed, many families have left the public schools and opted for charter, home, or private schools due to the indoctrination churned out in many public schools.
As an educator and mentor, I’ve witnessed the gradual watering down of California’s public education system. The results have been troubling. Far too many upper-course university students have the writing skills of students at the junior high or early high school level. A fixation on electronic devices is partially to blame for this decline. Students aren’t reading enough to curate knowledge in order to develop writing skills in a variety of genres.
Students would benefit if the state and university schools of education placed greater focus on intellectual diversity and an emphasis on character and skills. Martin Luther King, Jr., wisely noted that folks ought to be assessed on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. In a nation where equality of opportunity is systemic, anyone can select their own career and be successful without bureaucratic tinkering in the local schools. Experience, guidance, research, and trial and error can assist individuals in their quest to forge their own occupational destinies.
Utilizing the equity of outcomes approach punishes those who earn rewards through hard work and study habits. Moreover, it’s a disservice to minorities who want to compete on merit and don’t wish to be handed special favors based on arbitrary standards.
If education officials would pivot from an obsession with color, gender, and race to an emphasis on character, merit, and rigor, the public schools could be transformed into wholesome environments for all students. People wouldn’t care what teachers look like as long as they possess a passion to educate students as individuals, regardless of their backgrounds.
Hopefully, teachers would recognize that all human beings are “people of color” so that this meaningless phrase could be relegated to the ash heap. They might also become aware that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Divine Creator.