"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mr. Staples: Here's What Happened to Black Teachers

As the chief education spokesman for the New York Times editorial board, Brent Staples' support for corporate education polices most often goes unsigned in his editorials.  This week, however, Mr. Staples has an editorial piece in the Times that asks, "where did all the black teachers go?"

For almost three decades, Brent Staples has refined the New York Times' editorial policy on education to support, unfailingly, the corporate education reform agenda that began in Charlottesville, VA almost 30 years ago.  It was in 1989 that GHW Bush called together the nation's governors to meet with the nation's leading CEOs to set a national education agenda designed to put corporations in charge of making education policy based on Reagan market ideology, and to put governors in charge of implementation of that policy. 

The year after in 1990, Brent Staples joined the Times editorial board.  It was the same year that one of the governors leading the Charlottesville Conference, Lamar Alexander, was named Secretary of Education and charged with promoting education privatization policies to end the "public school monopoly." The other governor in charge at the Charlottesville Conference, Bill Clinton, was elected President in 1992, which began the school privatization effort in earnest. 

Clinton used the bully pulpit to advance charter growth, and by the time Clinton left office the nation was seven schools short (1,993) of meeting Clinton's goal of 2,000 charter schools in the U. S. by the year 2000.

As a black man embracing white racist policies, Staples voiced support for the white elite corporate education policies and policy talk that has for centuries blamed the shiftless poor for their impoverished and oppressed conditions and their lazy and ignorant black teachers for falling short of expectations on standardized tests designed to humiliate anyone outside the white middle class for which the tests were normed.

With Clinton, accountability demands began to be ratcheted up with more testing, so that by the time GW Bush was appointed President in 2000 by the Supreme Court, Brent Staples, as the voice of the Times on education, was ready to embrace a multi-prong frontal assault on the disenfranchised and the public school teachers that serve them. 

Thinly veiled as a social justice initiative that would "leave no child behind," the NCLB Act put the Business Roundtable and the oligarchs with tax-sheltered corporate foundations in charge of making education policy to test, label, demonize, and shut down thousands of public community schools in favor of corporate charter schools. 

In New Orleans, hundreds of black teachers lost their jobs almost overnight when disaster capitalists took over NOLA public schools after Katrina.  Tens of thousands of others around the country lost their jobs as well, just as they continue today to lose them wherever charter school operators replace credentialed teachers with pedagogically-ignorant, culturally-irrelevant, and empathy-free Ivy Leaguers devoted to turning impoverished black and brown children into robotic versions of middle class white kids. 

Staples and the Editorial Board applauded the creation of a new category of white male overseers and white female missionary teachers to staff the corporate charters, which were charged by their paternalist philanthrocapitalist bosses with dehumanizing and culturally sterilizing the children of the poor, while grinding out, from the surviving high scoring charter children the test results that would be used to justify charter expansion. 

Today there are almost 7,000 charter schools, and thousands more KIPP Model schools planned and funded by nearly $400 million in federal funds each year and the tens of billions of dollars annually from starving state education funds.

Now Brent Staples, near retirement age, asks in his most recent signed editorial piece for the Times, "what happened to black teachers?"  What happened, indeed!

Having gone to segregated schools, himself, up through grade 4, Staples was handpicked in 5th grade to attend the all-white William Penn School in Chester, Pennsylvania.  There at the William Penn Elementary, in a school with the social capital and educational resources to allow his talent to shine, his voice to develop, his aspirations to open up, he flourished.  In fact, he won scholarships that allowed him to advance his education, so that today he holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago.

If Mr. Staples were growing up today in a poor urban environment, such an intellectually precocious 5th grade child from a poor family would most likely end up in another segregated school like the punishing KIPP Model charter schools, where children in educationally-minimalist environments are beaten down until they become compliant and malleable enough to be molded by corporate happiness training into aspiring robots.

Black teachers, Mr. Staples?  Black and brown teachers who have not absorbed the white racism that imbues the KIPP Model schools want no part of this brave new world of total compliance training and child cruelty that you continue to support, as you hide behind the anonymity that your editorial board position affords you, except on the days that you put your name on a piece that pretends to care.


  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    In Newark, veteran black teachers are replaced by culturally clueless inexperienced young teachers. Even a daughter and sister of congressmen was unable to escape the harassment.

    Abigail Shure

  2. Anonymous8:27 PM

    Superb! Encapsulates the educational arm of the plutocracy in very accurate and direct way. And the corporate reformsters had the balls to call their privatization scheme the "21st century civil rights movement". Ha! The false narrative of "failing schools" and the assault on so-called, "failing teachers" has been supported by manipulated (bogus)test scores. Mr. Staples will soon be asking, "Where did all of the qualified teachers of any color go?" .