Over the last few months, BEU educators have been engaging in a dialogue with Superintendent Bott about what they see as insufficient support by the district for educators of color. The BEU is pleased that at a June 16 meeting with these educators, Andrew committed to answering in writing a set of questions that the educators gave Andrew and their principal. Here are some of their questions below. We look forward to the answers as they will contribute to the work of achieving racial justice and equity.
One of two black classroom teachers disappeared [in our school] with very little explanation to the students. Being a black student in Brookline can prove challenging. It can be difficult for these students to feel that it is their community. What is your plan to make these students feel a part of an accepting and nurturing community?
Obviously it’s important to recruit and retain staff of color [in our school] and in the district overall. Recognizing that it’s difficult to attract staff of color to Brookline, what’s your plan to give the additional support needed to help retain staff of color?
Why is it so difficult to attract teachers of color to a district like Brookline? What is Brookline doing about this?
What steps are currently being taken to retain teachers of color?
What is your understanding of the special / specific pressures/stresses that a young Black female teacher is apt to experience in a school that a white, class privileged male, or female might not experience?
More specifically, can you imagine that such a teacher might be treated differently by a parent? What specific training in cultural competency will you give principals to ensure that they are sensitive to the effects of white and class privilege that an educator of color might face from a parent, or a supervisor or other senior administrators?
Do you think that discipline of teachers by the administration should be race blind? Why or why not?
How would you respond to the argument that a failure to acknowledge white privilege in otherwise race-blind disciplinary procedures represents unconscious racial bias?
Will you commit to writing (and bringing to the School Committee) a document that explains what supports educators can expect from administrators? Will you put in writing how white privilege in disciplinary practices will be checked in all investigations of educator wrongdoing, and how this will be measured?
Are you open to acknowledging that a lack of recognition of the unique experience of educators of color reinforces white dominance in the act of making judgments and making universal claims about what behavior is, or is not, defensible and justifiable in the part of a staff person of color?