As students return to US schools for what many expect will be the first non-stop classroom experience in nearly three years, several US school districts project declines in enrollment numbers , and some of them are laying off teachers. It is a scenario that has been creating opportunities for the radical left.
In Minneapolis, where even 50 teachers could lose their jobs due to reduced enrollment and budget cuts, the local Teachers Federation (MFT) and public schools have determined that starting next year , with few exceptions, the public school system must fire white teachers before any non-white teachers can be fired, and if teachers are reinstated, white educators will be called in last. This process will continue until “the district’s teacher cadre reflects the diversity of the labor market and the community it serves.”
The purpose of these measures, called “Protections for Teachers of Cor”, is “to repair the ongoing effects of historical discrimination in the district”. A union spokesperson declined to answer questions about how the agreement will apply to mixed race or white Hispanics, although he said no teacher layoffs are currently being planned. Union president Greta Callahan told The Associated Press that criticism of the deal is “inventions of the right. And we couldn’t be more proud of the terms ”. The school district did not respond to requests to comment on the matter.
On Monday (1989 ), the conservative activist group Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Minneapolis taxpayer to ask that implementation of the agreement be suspended, for violating the guarantee of equality under the law of the Minnesota State Constitution.
In the Equity Proposal submitted to the MFT, the district argued that the agreement was necessary because statistics showed that 72% of public school teachers are white, 6% black and 3% Hispanic, while 38% of students are white, 36% black and 17% Hispanics.
Evidence of a racial incompatibility between a work group or community and the employees who serve him/her is insufficient to establish that it is of unlawful discrimination, although it may create a basis for further investigations. However, a mismatch between teachers and students is irrelevant under the terms of 10 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution or the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Minneapolis is 40% white, 16% black and % Hispanic. The nine-point difference in the percentage of white teachers must be contextualized. Minneapolis was 65 % white in 2000 ) is at 1990 , times when many of the public school teachers were hired. In addition, a school district report from November of 2018 showed that the percentage of new hires of white educators has decreased year-over-year since 2013, but retention rates are on average 4% higher each year among white teachers than among black educators.
Data on the labor market and the school district’s analyzes of the hiring problems it faces are revealing. According to the Census Bureau, in 2020, 40% of white Minneapolis residents had a college degree, while 12, 6% of black residents and 20, 4% of Hispanics had the same level of education. In addition, the local public school system report admits that it is more difficult to hire and retain black teachers than white teachers.
The Equal Protection Clause of The 1st Amendment provides that no state may “deny any person (… ) equal protection before the law”. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 grants all Americans “the full and equal benefit of all laws and procedures” . The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color and national origin. Progressive courts have relativized the clear meaning of these words, and teacher employment contracts are written with the aim of exploiting these loopholes.
Em 2018 , the Jackson, Michigan, school district and teachers union amended the employment contract to require that if teachers were fired, the seniority criterion would be disregarded for that “at no time is there a greater percentage of minority staff laid off than the current percentage of minority staff employed at the time of termination”. In the Wygant v Jackson Board of Education case (1979), the Supreme Court rejected this change, claiming that a corrective racial affirmative action initiatives of a public employer are valid under the due process clause of 14 th Amendment only if necessary and strictly designed to repair a discrimination practiced by that specific employer.
In the case of União dos Metalúrgicos x Weber (1979), the Supreme Court allowed a one-off exception to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for private sector hiring for affirmative action plans that have purposes that reflect the objectives of the law and do not “unnecessarily harm the interests of white officials”. Applying this case law, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Taxman v Piscataway Board of Education (1989) that a white teacher could not be fired for maintain racial diversity. The court rejected the argument that the alleged educational benefits provided by diversity would be sufficient to justify an exception to the Civil Rights Act of 72 ).
Based on these precedents, in City of Richmond v JA Croson Co. (1989), the Supreme Court held that widespread discrimination of a society or industry and underrepresentation alone do not justify affirmative action and that, before taking racial preferences into account, the defendant must consider “alternative, race-neutral means of increasing minority participation.”
Although the Minneapolis teachers contract states pre- textually that the aim is to redress historical discrimination, he makes only a generalized claim. The school district’s 2018 report blames its difficulty in recruiting black teachers on limited factors, attributing it “largely” to structural racism in the preparation of educators. in “white teacher preparation programs”. The report also pointed out that hiring difficulties are due to the insufficient number of black people seeking degrees to teach and the strict licensing requirements in Minnesota.
However, the district effectively assigns its retention problems to white prejudice, not to the lack of preparation of teachers who are part of racial minorities: “Once hired, teachers of color face a challenging work environment. These educators face frequent negative interactions, isolation and prejudice – from minor aggressions to more serious behaviors – from peers, leaders and the school community at large (…). When teachers of color try to confront these inequalities, they feel silenced and targeted.”
In addition to the constitutional and legal flaws of this policy, the harm to the dismissed and to racial relations is not justified by any benefit. convincing. Contrary to the assumption that increasing the number of teachers who are racial minorities leads to significant improvements in the performance of students from the same ethnic groups, research by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), a leftist education research institute based in Palo Alto , in California, found only a few studies that indicated improvement in the performance of minority students, and by only a few percentage points. Only one North Carolina study confirmed the repeated claim that attendance of racially-minority students increases in classes taught by teachers with the same ethnic profile.
More helpfully, a report by the Learning Policy Institute of 2018 noted:
“In the last 30 years ago, the percentage of black teachers in the workforce went from 12% for 20%. New teachers, as a whole, have increasingly diverse profiles. A quarter of first-year teachers in 2000 were non-white, against 1979 % at the end of the decade 1980 . However, the teaching workforce still does not reflect the nation’s growing diversity, where people of color represent an estimated 36% of the population and 50% of the students. And the participation of Native American and black teachers in the workforce is actually decreasing, unlike the populations of Latin American and Asian American teachers. In addition, teachers of color have higher labor market turnover rates than white teachers.”
The LPI recognized that many blacks hired through “alternative routes” do not they were as prepared as other teachers and often “skipped the preparation for teaching students and important courses”. The Minneapolis public school system report admits that “a disproportionate number of black teachers in the network work under a wide variety of degrees.”
Qualified teachers are lacking. While the gains from increasing the percentage of minority teachers are overestimated, there are undeniable benefits in eliminating poor quality alternative routes, increasing the participation of people of this ethnic background in education, and offering neutral opportunities for education. for qualified persons of all backgrounds to pursue careers as teachers in public education.
Many of the approaches to increasing the hiring and retention of racial minority teachers recommended by the LPI should be considered for teachers of of all races, such as state financial support for teacher training through scholarships and loan-debt forgiveness programs that cover a portion of tuition costs in exchange for multi-year commitments to teach classes in schools or subjects with greater need; partnerships between school districts and universities to support and improve teacher education; early hiring of interested candidates; and financial incentives for veteran teachers to report early in the year that they are retiring so the school can expedite the hiring of replacements. LPI also recommends better teaching conditions, including strengthening programs to observe accreditation and licensing standards.
On the other hand, the objective of the Minneapolis public system is to achieve “equality” through a lowering of standards and the replacement of white teachers. The sensible (and legal) goal is to expand the workforce and retention rate of all qualified teachers.
The union and district repeat progressive clichés to justify a racist attack on teachers whites who have dedicated their lives to working in the school system, including new hires who chose the district knowing the diversity of student profiles. In doing so, the union and school district reveal how ugly their thinking is and make clear the goals of the radical leftists who control most boards of education, teacher unions, and accrediting agencies.
On the other hand, while the Learning Policy Institute’s leanings may be left-wing, with a polish of neutrality on race issues, much of what the institute recommends is of interest to those on the right who believe in improving opportunities and the quality of education. teachers of all races.
Kenin M. Spivak is founder and president of international consulting and investment banking firm SMI Group LLC and a lifetime member of the National Association of Scholars.
© National Review. Published with permission. Original in English.