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Continuing my strong interest in how race and education intersect, my latest at The Atlantic explores a heretofore overlooked viewpoint on why we need more teachers of color, specifically considering the perspective of white students. We live in a diverse country – a country that is rapidly becoming majority people of color. We need to disrupt this pernicious cycle and improve the ability of white students to form diverse relationships and connections.

Excerpt:

The societal advantages of more teachers of color become clearer when considering the racial socialization—or the processes by which people develop their ethnic identities—of white adults, including the parents who may stumble in communicating racial understanding to their children. A Public Religion Research Institute study on “American Values” circulated last summer, following the shooting in Ferguson, showed that 75 percent of white Americans have all-white social networks. This self-segregation could help explain the racial divide over Michael Brown’s death and why it was seemingly so hard for many whites to understand what transpired in Ferguson: Their worldview was restricted to mostly white friends and family. And in a 2014 study researchers found that “the messages that white teens received [from parents regarding race] were contradictory and incomplete,” concluding that schools are a crucial link in building “productive and genuine relationships” between whites and people of color.

Read more on how nonwhite educators can offer new and valuable perspectives for children of all backgrounds.

(Photo by Eastern Michigan University)

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In my school district we’re less than a month away from the first day of school. As I oversee the annual ritual known as “Finish your summer packet or else” I’m also beginning to see the annual resurgence of back-to-school articles. Which sparked this quick post, because what’s the use of having a blog if not to serve as a vehicle for my musings and such.

Back-to-school stories abound. New laptops, Common Core, cost of back-to-school school supplies, and teachers’ tales of heading back to the classroom are typical favorites when other education stories rarely see the light. Here are two that easily come to mind:

School segregation: Nikole Hannah-Jones has returned to the topic she expertly covered on the anniversary of Brown v Board of Education, exploring in The New York Times Magazine how segregation is the continuing tragedy in Michael Brown’s school district one year after his death. This issue is one that adversely impacts school districts across the country. There is little political will to address this situation, and education reporters can bring attention to this through more consistent coverage like Jones exhibits. To paraphrase an Economic Policy Institute report, commentators (and reporters!) can’t continue to write ad nauseum about the “achievement gap” and quote education policymakers citing education as “civil rights issue of our time” and not spotlight the racial isolation of Black students (and other students of color) in public schools.

Homeless students: Like a recent NPR story out of Florida, periodically stories appear on local school districts working to identify and help homeless students. These are feel-good and pleasant. What doesn’t get enough ink is that federal law requires specific services be provided to students without a stable home. The McKinney-Vento Act, which oversees such regulations, mandates that states and school districts register homeless students for school without delay, provide transportation, and deliver other services that are routinely ignored. Education policymakers can’t eradicate homelessness, but education reporters can ensure they are held responsible for providing homeless children with the support they need.

As an education writer I choose to focus on how education intersects with issues of race, culture, gender, and class because this is an area that is undercovered and often misunderstood. I’m not seeking clones, but it would be nice to see more conscientious and painstaking education reporting that carves a new path rather than follows the same, well-worn template.