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This past school year was the first time in history that racial and ethnic minority students outnumbered their white counterparts. The U.S. Department of Education has projected that by 2022, non-white students will make up 54.7 percent of the public-school student population, largely due to the national increases in U.S.-born Hispanic and Asian populations.
Despite the fact that more students of color will be filling classrooms at increasing increments every school year, it’s a well reported fact that almost 80 percent of their teachers are white—and it doesn’t appear that that will change any time soon.
According to a recent study from the Albert Shanker Institute. a think tank funded by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black teachers dropped from 2002 to 2012.
As the student population grows more diverse, some attention has been paid to the fact that schools, often in high-minority or urban areas, remain “separate but unequal.” Comparatively less attention is paid to the fact that as the percentage of minority students has increased, the percentage of minority teachers has consistently lagged. From the 1987-88 school year to 2012, students of color have increased by almost 17 percentage points, while the percentage of non-white teachers had only crept up by 4.9 percent. Arguably, this exponential growth of youth of color in schools, should make the need for teachers of those same backgrounds more critical, and a demand greater recognition of this lack of parity in teacher diversity.
The report looks at nine major cities—Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—and noted that the disparity between teachers and students of color has increased in each city from 2002 to 2012. It accounted for the rapid expansion of the private- and charter-school sector, and noted some of the challenges faced by public schools, which has lead to barriers hiring and keeping teachers.
The study’s findings are even bleaker considering it found that the declines of black teachers are consistent, and that Hispanic teachers—whose numbers aren’t necessarily falling—are being significantly outpaced by the increases in Hispanic student populations.
“We just had no idea the extent of it. What’s clear from this data is over the last 10 years or so with the recession, if you look at every one of these cities, there’s a loss of teachers—but African Americans are bearing a hugely disproportionate share of the loss,” Leo Casey, executive director of the Shanker Institute told The Washington Post . The number of black teachers in the workforce declined, in varying rates of severity—from roughly 1 percent in Boston’s charter sector and Cleveland’s district sector, to more than 24 percent in both New Orleans sectors and nearly 28 percent in Washington, D.C’s charters and districts.
Between 2003 and 2011, D.C.’s white teacher population more than doubled from 16 percent to 39 percent while black teacher populations contracted from 77 percent to 49 percent—the most drastic reduction among the cities featured in the study. Nationally the number of non-white teachers is growing, but their overall impact may be muddled by the fact that oftentimes they are assigned to high-poverty schools, which may be a contributing factor to high turnover rates.
These cities represent some of the nation’s largest school districts, and ones that have historically housed a lot of the minority student population—it’s no secret that these under-served populations have faced funding challenges, dismal educational outcomes that stem from inexperienced teachers. and the hemorrhaging of teachers of color.
Black students in Cleveland, for example, make up almost 67 percent of the students who attend public school—which reflects the city’s demographics—but 71 percent of their instructors are white. One hopeful finding was that the number of Hispanic teachers showed consistent growth in all cities except Cleveland over the 10 year period, and a significant jump in Los Angeles.
“The whole effort of the last two decades has been toward minority-teacher recruitment, and it’s been an unheralded victory, really,” Richard Ingersoll, one of the researchers in the study and University of Pennsylvania professor in the graduate education school and a leading expert on teaching-force trends, said to the Post. “The problem is with retention. Minority teachers have significantly higher quit rates than non-minority teachers. And that’s a huge problem.”
In the study Ingersoll cited recession-driven budget cuts; new charter schools opening and shifting students, teachers, and resources from the districts to the charter sector; teacher-turnover rates being higher in charter schools than in districts as the main reasons for the depressed hiring of new minority teachers.
It is no longer a question of, do we need teachers of color? There is no shortage of data that shows that minority teachers not only help improve the outcomes of students who share their background, but also that of academic performance of students of all races are improved. The questions now are: What can be done to curb the high-attrition rates for minority teachers, and will addressing hiring disparities for black and Hispanic teachers do enough to equalize students' attainment levels?
The desert is an unforgiving place. In a short film, meet the people who call it home.
Adrienne Green is an assistant editor at The Atlantic.
The United States has voiced its displeasure with Israeli settlements. Or has it?
What happens when the most powerful country in the world effectively has two presidents at once? Its policy regarding one of the most complex conflicts on the planet collapses into a muddled mess.
Or, more precisely, you have what unfolded over the last 48 hours: The Egyptian government submits to the UN Security Council a resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This raises the possibility that the Obama administration could express its opposition to Israeli settlement policy by abstaining from the vote, rather than vetoing the resolution as it had with a similar one in 2011. Enraged Israeli officials call up Donald Trump, who tweets that the United States should veto. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, abruptly calls off the vote. At some point during all this, Trump has a phone conversation with Sisi where they chat about jointly solving various issues in the Middle East. Anonymous Israeli officials, essentially siding with the incoming Trump administration, criticize Obama in unusually harsh terms for plotting with the Palestinians to abandon Israel at the United Nations. A day later, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela reintroduce the resolution, which comes to a vote and is adopted by the Security Council, including Egypt, with the United States abstaining. Barack Obama delivers a powerful parting message to Israel’s leaders that is powerfully undercut by Donald Trump’s opening message. “As to the U.N. things will be different after Jan. 20th,” Trump tweets shortly after the vote.
A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next
In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st, and the president had spent many of the previous weeks, as he would spend the two subsequent weeks, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Things were looking up. Polls in the crucial states of Virginia and Pennsylvania showed Clinton with solid advantages. The formidable GOP strongholds of Georgia and Texas were said to be under threat. The moment seemed to buoy Obama. He had been light on his feet in these last few weeks, cracking jokes at the expense of Republican opponents and laughing off hecklers. At a rally in Orlando on October 28, he greeted a student who would be introducing him by dancing toward her and then noting that the song playing over the loudspeakers—the Gap Band’s “Outstanding”—was older than she was.
As stars avoid inauguration bookings, the president-elect tries to divide America’s population from its popular culture.
The Celebrity Apprentice president’s latest PR problem is celebrities. For weeks, reports have indicated that his inauguration team has had trouble booking any star performers: “They are willing to pay anything,” one talent representative reportedly told TheWrap after being approached by Trump’s people. The president-elect’s camp have denied that’s the case, but Elton John, Celine Dion, and KISS are among those who’ve publicly rejected rumors that they’d play the swearing-in celebrations; right now, the confirmed lineup of recognizable performers is the 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Rockettes.
Last night, Trump seemed to confirm Hollywood and he weren’t making nice, tweeting. “The so-called ‘A’ list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!” It was a remark that flipped the publicized dynamic (Trump’s team approaching A-listers got swiveled the other way around) for a mix of self-congratulation and insults—a familiar maneuver by now. But the tweet also, tellingly, attempted to draw a dividing line between “the PEOPLE” and the entertainment world, making for his latest divide-and-conquer attempt against American popular culture.
The country’s first black president never pursued policies bold enough to close the racial wealth gap.
Over the next few weeks, The Atlantic will be publishing a series of responses to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s story "My President Was Black ." Readers are invited to send their own responses to [email protected] and we will post a sample of your feedback. You can read other responses to the story from Atlantic readers and contributors here .
Born in 1953, I am a child of the waning years of legal segregation in the United States. My parents, on the other hand, spent about 40 years of their lives under Jim Crow, and all of my grandparents lived most of their lives under official American apartheid. At the time of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008, my mother and all four of my grandparents were deceased. But my father was alive and well—and absolutely thrilled to have lived to see the election of a black man as president of the United States. Usually deeply cynical about American politics and politicians, my dad could not comprehend my deep reservations about Barack Obama’s leadership. Indeed, he viewed any criticism of Obama as bringing aid and comfort to white supremacists.
The lonely poverty of America’s white working class
For the last several months, social scientists have been debating the striking findings of a study by the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton.* Between 1998 and 2013, Case and Deaton argue, white Americans across multiple age groups experienced large spikes in suicide and fatalities related to alcohol and drug abuse—spikes that were so large that, for whites aged 45 to 54, they overwhelmed the dependable modern trend of steadily improving life expectancy. While critics have challenged the magnitude and timing of the rise in middle-age deaths (particularly for men ), they and the study’s authors alike seem to agree on some basic points: Problems of mental health and addiction have taken a terrible toll on whites in America—though seemingly not in other wealthy nations—and the least educated among them have fared the worst.
Science can’t prove it and the industry denies it, but Gary Taubes is convinced that the sweet stuff kills.
“I hope that when you have read this book I shall have convinced you that sugar is really dangerous,” wrote John Yudkin in his foghorn-sounding treatise on nutrition from 1972, Pure, White and Deadly. Sugar’s rapid rise to prominence in the Western diet, starting in the mid-19th century, had coincided with a sudden outbreak of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Yudkin, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent nutritionists at the time, believed that one had caused the other.
Then, as now, there was no decisive test of his idea—no perfect way to make the case that sugar kills. It’s practically impossible to run randomized, controlled experiments on human diets over many years, so the brief against sugar, like the case against any other single foodstuff, must be drawn from less reliable forms of testimony: long-term correlations, animal experiments, evolutionary claims, and expert judgments. In Pure, White and Deadly. Yudkin offered all of these as “circumstantial evidence rather than absolute proof” of his assertion. But so many suspicious facts had already accumulated by 1972, he claimed, that it would be foolish to ignore them. Even based on circumstantial evidence, readers should be convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” of sugar’s crime against humanity.
The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior.
What is happening to America’s white working class?
The group’s important, and perhaps decisive. role in this year’s presidential election sparked a slew of commentary focused on, on the one hand, its nativism, racism, and sexism. and, on the other, its various economic woes . While there are no simple explanations for the desperation and anger visible in many predominantly white working-class communities, perhaps the most astute and original diagnosis came from the rabbi and activist Michael Lerner, who, in assessing Donald Trump’s victory, looked from a broader vantage point than most. Underneath the populist ire, he wrote. was a suffering “rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”
From fortified foods to nutrition labels, the legacy of an early financial crisis lives on in kitchens across the United States.
It’s difficult to imagine that modern Americans, at the zenith of an era of self-styled gastronomy and rampant food waste. could have much in common with their Depression-era forebears who subsisted (barely) on utilitarian liver loaves and creamed lima beans. But trendy excess notwithstanding, the legacy of the 1929 financial crisis lives on: From the way that ingredients and produce wend their paths to American kitchens year-round, to the tone taken by public intellectuals and elected officials about food consumption and diet.
The nation’s hunger and habits during the Great Depression are of particular interest to Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe, whose book A Square Meal offers a culinary history of an era not known for culinary glamour. The pair not only trace what Americans ate—when they were fortunate enough to secure food—but also the divergent philosophies that guided government strategy in the battle against widespread hunger. One enduring, easily caricatured figure of the crisis is former President Herbert Hoover, a self-made tycoon who knew deprivation as an orphan in Iowa and whose rise to the White House was hastened by his heroic work to alleviate hunger in Europe following the First World War. “He was the great humanitarian,” Coe told me recently over breakfast. “He had the skills, he had the knowledge, he’d done it before. Everything was there.”
The Atlantic ’s editors and writers share their favorite titles—new, classic, or somewhere in between—from a year of reading.
Roadside Picnic is a book about aliens in which no aliens appear. Rather, one character hypothesizes, aliens seemed to have zipped carelessly around Earth and strewed it with trash—like roadside picnickers leaving behind wrappers and empty bottles. The scientists, smugglers, and other profiteers so drawn to these alien objects are but ants crawling through the picnic crumbs. Is this a book that makes you contemplate the smallness of humans? Absolutely. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly breezy title. Roadside Picnic was first written in Russian in 1972, and it is the very loose inspiration for the movie Stalker. An afterward to the 2012 English translation describes Soviet efforts to censor the book, which seems somehow newly relevant in America.
His tone and temperament haven’t changed since the campaign, and he’s poised to enter office with historically low approval ratings.
On the night in December 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount and effectively decided the presidential race for George W. Bush, the Texas governor delivered a nationally televised speech soon after Al Gore called him to concede.
Speaking from the stately chamber of the Texas House of Representatives, Bush seemed tentative, even nervous. But his message to a nation bitterly divided by his controversial victory was clear. “Here in a place where Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to do what is right for the people we represent,” Bush said. “The spirit of cooperation I have seen in this hall is what is needed in Washington, D.C. … Our nation must rise above a house divided.”
In a short animation, Barack Obama speaks with Ta-Nehisi Coates about his road to the White House.