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City Schools Struggle With Demographic Disparity Among Students And Teachers

December 9th, 2013 · 60 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events

Student Ethnicity/Race by School

Student population by ethnicity/race.

In Bridgeport schools, the Hispanic/Latino demographic makes up 49 percent of the student body while teachers of the same demographic comprise 10.45 percent of the faculty. Black/African American students account for roughly 38 percent of the student population while black/African American teachers total about 13 percent. White students account for 9.27 percent of the total student population. White teachers, 74.30 percent of the faculty. These statistics provided by school officials at the request of OIB illustrate a demographic gulf the new-look Board of Education will be challenged to close.

Among 1502 teachers in the school system, 193 are black/African American, 157 are Hispanic/Latino, 1116 are white.

Read the full report here.

Is it possible for a Hispanic student never to experience a likewise teacher in public schools? The same for African American students? It’s a disparity challenging urban districts around the country, as pointed out by Melissa Bailey of the New Haven Independent here.

The issue gained public attention last week, when the school district chose a black male teacher, Garfield Pilliner, as its teacher of the year.

Some said the shortage of men like Pilliner in the teaching force is a grave concern for black boys, who are more likely to drop out of school, face unemployment, and–in Connecticut–12 times more likely to end up in prison than their white peers.

Pilliner worked at Bridgeport’s Harding High before joining New Haven public schools in 2009.

It raises the question: does race/ethnicity matter? Is it more productive in the cause of student advancement for the faculty to reflect the statistical makeup of the student body?

Maria Pereira who recently completed a four-year term on the Board of Education tells OIB this is an issue the school system has struggled with for some time.

The BBOE has discussed this over the last 4 years. We actually discussed it at length at our November 12, 2013 regular meeting.

It has been an issue for some time. There have even been recruitment efforts in Puerto Rico and historical African American colleges. I have never seen any significant results with these recruitment strategies.

A new Board of Education with four fresh faces is expected to conduct its organizational meeting Monday night at 6 at the Aquaculture School, 60 St. Stephens Road. Sauda Baraka is the favorite to become the new board chair. One of the challenges facing the nine-member body will be a successful policy to close the disparity gap.


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60 Comments so far ↓

  • JMart

    Pretty pathetic when you have to look outside the home for a role model.


    Wait a minute. Do we want the best teachers or just the best black or Hispanic teachers? Can they use the same logic to hire teachers, cops, waiters or anyone in Greenwich or Yale? Is there any proof minority students learn better from minority teachers? If they do, would it be better to have all minority schools we send all minority students to and bus the white students to white schools? To make this more cost effective we could require minority parents live near the minority schools and white parents live near white schools. Say, a separate but equal thing. It would probably be reasonable to supplement incomes to help those who couldn’t afford it live near the schools they need to. Say, help a black millionaire live in Bridgeport and a poor white family live in Fairfield. We could even make the black millionaire guy pay for the white family. Does thing kind of thinking sound familiar to anyone?

    • Ron Mackey

      BOE SPY, let’s reverse the numbers. White students account for 90.73 percent of the total student population. African American and Hispanic, 74.30 percent of the faculty. How do you think those numbers will sit?

      • JMart

        Ron, you are talking about a Diverse Paradise, never going to happen with a 50-70% dropout rate and 7% working at grade level, not just in Bridgeport but across the USA.
        www .youtube.com/watch?v=kGqlrVmVULc

        • Ron Mackey

          JMart, you didn’t answered my question, let’s use my numbers and tell me how it would sit with black and Hispanics teachers teaching white children and influence them for their 12 years of education?

          • Bob

            Ron, there shouldn’t be an issue of race, religion, ethnicity or anything else when it comes to this discussion. You want the best teachers PERIOD. Anything else is a race discussion.
            And therein lies the divide in our country. The inner-city public schools have generally failed and you can lay the blame squarely on the teachers unions, the lack of parenting, drugs and gangs.

      • BOE SPY

        Ron–I would say ‘so what.’ I am not sure what stereotype you think white teachers would convey to minority students but as professional people I would hope it would be to sit down, shut up and learn. What exactly do you think these people are doing in school all day? They have jobs to do and the amount of free time to tell the minority students Perry Como is a better musician than Li’l Wayne is limited. If teachers had that much, or any, influence on students you would think the students would do better in school. Do you think we should try to hire more male teachers since the field is dominated by women but the student population is ~50/50? As an adult I can barely remember any of my teachers. Never mind their color. I know most of them were women but I still managed to grow up with a male perspective on life.

        • Ron Mackey

          BOE SPY, you are still missing my point. How do you think it would be accepted if we reverse the numbers? White students account for 90.73 percent of the total student population. African American and Hispanic, 74.30 percent of the faculty. How do you think those numbers will sit with mostly black and Hispanic female teachers with the same dropout rate and test scores as Bridgeport has now?

          • Pete Spain

            And Ron, to the hypothetical you are depicting, an additional question:
            How would the parents of that vast majority of students react to the chronic student underperformance and problematic funding issues of the school system?

            Clearly in Bridgeport today there’s a need for more citizens (especially parents) to get involved and speak out. When you have 11.6% voter turnout (as in the Nov 5, 2013 Bridgeport election), it gives the decisionmakers a pretty unchecked existence.

          • BOE SPY

            I would accept it just fine. The dropout rate is the anomaly not the racial makeup of the staff. If anything BPT schools have twice the minority teachers as the surrounding towns. If you want to do a comparison and pick out anomalies that may be responsible for the dropout rate, it wouldn’t be we have too few minority teachers. It would be we have too many. You see, if you want your graduation rate to be like another school system’s the object would be to make your schools like the other system’s schools. That is assuming the root of the problem is NOT the students. So we want our schools to be like Fairfield’s. Then we want 10% of the teachers to be black or Hispanic. You are still assuming the problems in the schools have to do with the teachers. Not only that, it is the color of the teachers.
            You want to hire a minority teacher. Say, for the sake of argument, the teacher turns out to be Steve Urkel or Carlton Banks from Fresh Prince. Would you be OK with that? What requirement would the race of the teacher fulfill? Would a minority teacher from the UK be OK? Or a Mormon or country western guy from Utah? ~75% of the people in this country are white. It would be a good idea for the students to be used to interacting with white people. When they start working or move away from BPT most of the people they interact with are going to be white people.
            I am sure in African or South American countries the situation you are talking about happens. I am not aware of any protests from parents of white children to the racial makeup of the teachers in these countries.

          • JMart

            It’s not the teachers’ fault for the high dropout rate or the piss-poor achievement levels.
            www .youtube.com/watch?v=3a-Co_lsFbs

  • Pete Spain

    Yes, diversity is inescapably important.

    The pool of teacher talent is largely drawn from citizens of CT who meet the state certification requirements. Outside recruiting as mentioned in this OIB post–I’d even venture to say including Teach for America–probably won’t significantly alter that fact.

    So what’s the state population estimates for Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Ethnicity, for 2012?

    14.2% Hispanic; 10% non-Hispanic “Black.”

    For Fairfield County: 18% Hispanic; 11% non-Hispanic “Black.”

    Source: CT Dept Public Health site citing National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data:
    a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3132&q=388152″>www .ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3132&q=388152

    Probably has something to do with why, according to info in this OIB post, about 25% of teachers in B’port public schools are minorities. This isn’t a fixed proportion either … and, as with the population, will likely increase. Great! That’s America.

    On a personal note, I tutor for free each week at Marin School. I hope my ability to help the Lighthouse Program kids do their homework is never considered less important than my race/ethnicity.

    The kids I help do not seem to care. One of the students who proudly identified himself as Puerto Rican, while we were going back and forth in Spanish and English, asked me if I am Puerto Rican. Muchas gracias tu también, el niño!

    • Local Eyes

      Thanks to massive immigration, diversity is a trait and not “inescapably important.”

      • Pete Spain

        In the context of this post about institutional diversity, yes, it is inescapably important.

        “BOE SPY” raises some valid points. We want the best teachers. Their backgrounds, experiences, and abilities are surely part of this.

        Should the ethnic/racial makeup of the teachers in the Bridgeport Public Schools eclipse all other issues for the new BOE? In my humble opinion, no. Much more important: Address how to get more of our public-school students learning and achieving at least at their grade level (they are not!). Lots to be done. Let’s all try to do what we can … and not get bogged down in our differences.

        Anyone see this in yesterday’s NY Times?

        O.E.C.D. Warns West on Education Gaps
        Published: December 8, 2013

        From that article:

        “Sweden has the biggest decline of any country in the world,” Dr. Jerrim [a professor at the Institute for Education] said in an interview. “They’re down 3.3 percent in mathematics, 3.1 percent in science and 2.8 percent in reading, and that continues a trend from 2009.”

        Yet the American and British governments “have followed the Swedish model by opening more and more ‘free schools’ or charter schools,” he said.

        His skepticism was echoed by Mr. Schleicher, the O.E.C.D. official, who said, “The data shows no relation between competition between schools and the overall performance level.”

        Asked afterward what the highest-performing systems had in common, Mr. Schleicher said: “High performers pay teachers more. They are also systems with a commitment to universal achievement.”

        In Shanghai, more than half the students tested finished in the top two categories in mathematics, he noted, and the figure in Singapore was 40 percent.

        Only about 13 percent of French students made it into the top two categories in mathematics while in the United States only 8.8 percent did.

  • Steven Auerbach

    This should not even be a topic for discussion. A teacher is a teacher and the color of the skin or nation of origin should be irrelevant. This is the 21st century and if we are still discussing race especially in the school system or student population then we are going to lose. Teachers should be HIRED BASED ON MERIT, not the color of their skin or the language they speak at home. End of story. Period!!!

    • Ron Mackey

      Steven Auerbach, I agree with you but not when you said, “Teachers should be HIRED BASED ON MERIT, not the color of their skin or the language they speak at home. End of story. Period!!!” Young black males being taught their entire 12 years in schools by white females, now let me make myself clear on this, those teachers are doing the best they can do and we need to say that but the role model they will encounter there is that teacher. There are too many black single mothers raising their children with no black male as a role model, now that is not those teachers’ problem but as a society it is something that needs to be looked at. The point of my earlier question was how would whites feel if ONLY blacks and Hispanics were their children’s teachers for 12 years.

      • BOE SPY

        These same students are being raised for 18 years by a black female. Address that issue. The school system cannot afford to solve all your problems. Go ahead and volunteer at PAL. Get all your friends to go with you. You have started a number of civic-minded groups that helped support many people, i.e. Firebirds, etc. You were always one of those people, but OK. Start up FAL (Firemen’s Athletic League).

        • Bob Walsh

          BOE SPY,
          Be careful, your true colors are coming through. “The school system cannot afford to solve all your problems.” They are OUR problems. Rembrandt, it’s supposed to be about THE school children not yours versus ours.
          You seem to be offended by the suggestion of positive role models in the schools. The children in the Bridgeport schools have enough to overcome as it is. Being reminded daily you cannot grow up and aspire to be a teacher is a very negative subliminal message; day in and day out.

          • BOE SPY

            Yeah, my kids have a role model. That would be me. The school system cannot be expected to solve every problem people create for themselves. Should the school system help us with our credit card debt, our crappy cars and weight problems? I have leaves in my yard. Should I call the school? Let the school do the educating, BPT mental health do the counseling and Big Brothers and Sisters do the role modeling.
            Teachers CAN be role models but that is not their job. The same goes for sports stars, musicians, politicians, etc. There’s no way to guarantee the ethical behavior of a teacher. Wasn’t a teacher just recently arrested for filming kids changing in a closet? Teachers are just regular people with a job. They leave their wives, abandon their kids, become addicted to substances and suffer all the other ills of humanity.
            The other question is, after reading all the teachers post what a crappy job teaching is, why would we want ‘our’ kids to become teachers?
            Just saying.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Ron, I would say the same thing. If I had a black or Hispanic teacher for the first 12 years of my life it would be fine. Children are exposed to others in many ways. Movies, TV, reading etc. There are many principals of color in the Bridgeport school system. The President is black. We know the largest growing population is Hispanic. Stereotypically, why do the Indian and Japanese population do well in school? IT IS WHAT IT IS. Children are exposed to many things and if we are looking to change the teachers based on ethnicity hoping for a different end, forget it. I’ll bet most kids grew up with the Huxtables. The problem is the parents and has always been the parents and will continue to be the parents We can feed the kids three meals a day, give them Head Start and Pre-K and after-school programs. The only thing not done is putting them to bed and waking them up. Maybe three hours of homework is necessary.

        • Ron Mackey

          Steven Auerbach, you said, “If I had a black or Hispanic teacher for the first 12 years of my life it would be fine.” Well, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking your children being educated by black and Hispanic female teachers for the first 12 years of their education. I’m talking about the five days a week from Sept. to June for 12 years with the interpersonal relationship, not watching movies and TV. As for the Indian and Japanese population doing well in school, well they outperform whites in testing but they don’t have the wealth, influence, jobs and opportunity whites have.

          • Bob

            And my French teacher in junior high school in NYC was Miss Gumbs, a black woman. And in 1958 race wasn’t an issue. Our vice principal was Edith Gaines Hines who eventually became the top education administrator for Connecticut. She too was black. And she taught us the song “Facing the Rising Sun our new day has begun. Let us march on ’til victory is won.”

          • Steven Auerbach

            Ron, your last comment was my point!

          • Ron Mackey

            Wanted: Black Male Teachers Across the Nation
            Thu, 2011-12-08 00:00 | by: Bryan G Nelson

            Changing the face of the classroom

            A Harvard University Kennedy School of Government study published in 2004 concluded that white and Black students did better on state tests with teachers of their own race. The findings indicated that recruiting more minority teachers could generate important gains among minority students.

            One of the reasons is that minority teachers better understand cultural differences and can “break down the students’ stereotypes,” according to the study.

            Fuller said the state hasn’t pushed hard to get more minority college graduates into the classroom.

            “It’s hard to change the makeup of our teaching force very quickly,” he said. “The state leadership hasn’t paid much attention to this problem or even thought about it for years and that’s why we are where we are. We don’t stand alone in this crisis, this challenge, there are coast to coast, states, colleges, universities, school districts faced with the same challenges.

            We think that by placing African American men in the classroom is extremely critical because we’re losing so many black males in the school district in school system. In fact, more than half of our children don’t make it through high school. That’s an alarming statistic.”

            To attract more male teachers, heavy recruiting at the university level is necessary, says Steve Peha, president of Teaching That Makes Sense, an education-consulting company. “We won’t see more male teachers if we don’t see more young men pursuing teaching degrees,” he notes.

          • BOE SPY

            Ron–Many of the studies conducted do show students of color do better when they have a teacher of the same color. This only happens for American black and Hispanic students. It does not apply to black/Hispanic exchange students or American Asian students (India is in Asia). The important question is why.
            A study in CA showed teachers of color give more time to student of the same color. When grading is subjective the teacher will be more lenient when it comes to students of her color. Discipline is the same way. The like-colored student may not be better behaved. They are just not punished as often or as harshly. Young students may have benefit from a role model effect but older students do not. Students of the same color do 3% better but all other races do 6% worse. This accounts for most of the achievement gap narrowing. The other students just do worse. The increase for like-colored students may be from easier grading and the decrease for all other races may be from harsher grading. The study did not look at if this behavior is evident in white teachers. If this ‘effect’ is experienced by white teachers it would lead one to surmise the ‘achievement gap’ is imaginary and only evident on paper. The study did not say how any of these students did on standardized testing. A standardized test would have shown what the students learned as compared to each other without subjective input.

        • Joel Gonzalez

          Ron, I see lots of female (they’re minorities too, no?) white teachers. If you believe what that articles says, then you believe the majority of female students (particularly the white ones) are doing better than male students. Can you find a study or someone who claims white female students who have white female teachers do better than boys or girls with non-white teachers? Who makes this shit up?

          I do think we should reconsider co-ed classes, let’s put all boys and all girls in separate classes and schools. That should lower the teen pregnancy rate and allow them to concentrate on school lessons instead of thinking about boys and girls. All the talk about same-sex marriages and no talk about same-sex schools?

          • Ron Mackey

            SAGE Publications

            “Math teachers demonstrate a bias toward white male students”

            Los Angeles, CA (April 16, 2012) While theories about race, gender, and math ability among high school students have long been debated, a recent study found that math teachers are in fact, unjustifiably biased toward their white male students. This study was published in a new article released in the April 2012 issue of Gender & Society (GENDSOC), the official journal of the Sociologists for Women in Society, published by SAGE.

            “This speaks to the presence of a perhaps subtle yet omnipresent stereotype in high school classrooms: Math, comparatively speaking, is just easier for white males than it is for white females,” wrote the authors.

            Researchers Catherine Riegle-Crumb and Melissa Humphries analyzed data collected by the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) that consisted of a nationally representative group of about 15,000 students. Their data also included teacher surveys in which math teachers were asked to offer their personal assessment of individual students, indicating whether they felt that the course was too easy for the student, the appropriate level, or too difficult. The researchers compared these assessments with other data about the students such as their math GPA and their score on a standardized math test in order to determine if the teachers’ perceptions of their students’ abilities matched up with the students’ actual scores.

            After analyzing this data, the researchers found disparities between teachers’ favorable perceptions of the abilities of their white male students and these students’ scores. Conversely, white female students were perceived by teachers to be doing more poorly in their math classes than they actually were.

            The researchers did not, however, find the same disparities between white students and minority students. In fact, they found that math teachers actually favored black female students, claiming that these students were more successful in their math classes than they actually were.

            The authors wrote, “Once we take into account that, on average, Black and Hispanic male and female students have lower grades and test scores than white males, teachers do not rate the math ability of minority students less favorably than students belonging to the traditionally advantaged category of white males.”

            Riegle-Crumb and Humphries offered some explanations for their findings. For example, since few black females were enrolled in high-level math courses, teachers may have viewed the black female students in their advanced courses as overcoming more to be successful in mathematics, thus illustrating more perseverance and academic potential. Additionally, they explained that teachers may be more sensitive to their own tendencies towards racial bias than gender bias as gender bias may be so socially ingrained that it is harder to notice and therefore harder to resist.

            The authors wrote, “The occurrence of bias in high school classrooms indicates that cultural expectations likely function to shape interactions and re-create inequality throughout the math pipeline that leads to high-status occupations in related fields of science and technology.”

      • JMart

        Ron, it would not make a difference, we elected Obama, twice.
        www .youtube.com/watch?v=JOY84ymUvn0

    • Local Eyes

      For a strong, emphatic and relevant post that’s easy to understand and suitable for framing, I nominate Steven Auerbach as OIB Blogger of the day!

  • Bond Girl

    I don’t think it should entirely be put upon the educational system to make up for the fact there are a lack of role models in the lives of some students. There are grandfathers, brothers, uncles, cousins and so forth who can and should provide a strong and stable male influence to their family members. It is more appropriately their obligation than any school system’s.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Ron Mackey, no offense but it almost sounds as though you believe segregated schools would be the way to go. BLACK TEACHERS WITH BLACK STUDENTS, LATINO STUDENTS WITH LATINO TEACHERS, ETC. Sorry guy, but we need to gravitate to a place where race has no meaning. You give credibility to the mentality of the Republican party and you should be ashamed of yourself.

      • Ron Mackey

        Steven Auerbach, I’m sure you know American history and Plessy v. Ferguson court case that gave legal standing to the idea of separate but equal. This doctrine required any separate facilities had to be of equal quality.
        So Steve, you see America has been there before but it didn’t work because money was NEVER equal, blacks never had a chance in that system. The Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896 is significant in the course of American history, as its outcome upheld the notion racial segregation was constitutionally legal under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896) was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education, 1954.

        Steve, I have no problem with “separate but equal” just as long as it’s equal.

        The Plessy decision would be used as a precedent until 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Ron, you got me! I am not familiar at all with the American history you suggest. Going back to 1896 and 1954 is pretty silly, no? The social climate of the country was a little different then, no?

          • Ron Mackey

            Steven Auerbach, a little more American history.

            New York Times
            By RICHARD SEVERO
            Published: May 2, 2005

            Kenneth B. Clark believed that systematic racism “inevitably destroys and damages human beings.”

            Kenneth B. Clark, the psychologist and educator whose 1950 report showing the destructive effect of school segregation influenced the United States Supreme Court to hold school segregation to be unconstitutional.

            Dr. Clark was a leader in the civil rights movement that developed after World War II. He was the first black to earn a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University.

            Dr. Clark, who grew up in New York, gained firsthand knowledge of the effects of legally entrenched segregation in an extended visit, in the early 1950′s, to Clarendon County in central South Carolina. Its school system had three times as many blacks as whites, but white students received more than 60 percent of the funds earmarked for education.

            Dr. Clark administered a test, which he had devised years earlier, to 16 of those black children, who were ages 6 to 9. He showed them a black doll and a white doll and asked them what they thought of each. Eleven of them said that the black doll looked “bad,” and nine of them thought that the white doll looked “nice.” Seven of the 16 told Dr. Clark that they actually saw themselves as being closest to the white doll in appearance when asked, “Now show me the doll that’s most like you.”

            “These children saw themselves as inferior, and they accepted the inferiority as part of reality,” Dr. Clark said.

            Dr. Clark’s testing in Clarendon County was used by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in its challenge to the constitutionality of the separate-but-equal doctrine because it showed actual damage to children who were segregated and a violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

            On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and Marshall, who had argued the case before the court, called Dr. Clark with the news. Dr. Clark recalled that Marshall told him that “Justice Warren had specifically mentioned the psychological testimony as key.”

  • Hector A. Diaz

    It’s really not who’s the teacher but “WHAT” are they teaching. I agree with Ron in the NEED for more minority male teachers, but it is our responsibility to express this need to our young men when they are looking for and deciding on what careers they can be of most use in.

  • bridgeportnow

    We need more teachers who speak at least conversational Spanish. Stats are even worse. Half the students are Latino but the other stat is less than 10% since not all Latino teachers speak Spanish. And I have spoken with teachers and I hear a lot of frustration.

    Is there no program to have the teachers of Bridgeport learn some conversational Spanish? I mean we are trying to improve failing schools and can’t even communicate with the students or parents. There will be Spanish language classes for professionals at the public library coming at some point soon. But how can we get teachers to attend?

    • Steven Auerbach

      Students who do not speak English belong in a ESL class–English as a second language and parents should be encouraged to learn and speak English to enhance their children’s education.

    • Hector A. Diaz

      Latino = insult; either they are Latin or they’re Anglo. I would bet bridgeportnow is Caucasian.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      How many of these Spanish-speaking kids speak, read and write Spanish? Am I to assume they all do? Learning English is easy and the first step is to learn to pronounce the alphabet. The same goes for learning Spanish. If a person doesn’t put the time and effort to learn, they won’t learn. Again, what’s the big excuse for not learning math? Is it the Spanish-speaking student doesn’t really know Spanish (read and write it)? Just because a person speaks Spanish doesn’t mean they know to read or write it and the same goes for English or any other language. A student who can demonstrate he or she knows how to speak, read and write Spanish will very likely learn English. Knowing their native language shows they are capable of learning; he or she is capable and motivated to learn; will put in the effort to learn. If the student can’t and he or she is over 10 years old and not special ed, the teacher has a burro on their hands. Best to send them back to a lower grade and start over. If the student improves, learns and reaches the level he or she should be in, move him or her up a grade.

  • John Marshall Lee

    I am told teachers will attend if you pay them for it (and probably make the classes mandatory).
    I offer that comment as a reflection of a conversation with more than one teacher providing info on why some of the school technology that has been made available to high school and eighth grade classes is not in use. The reason offered is how to become conversant with technology is unknown and unwanted to some educators so they have not taken advantage of free classes offered this summer. They are waiting for “paid classes” I have been informed. Interesting, isn’t it. Time will tell.

  • Tom White

    This topic is irrelevant. These statistics reflect the demographics of urban school districts, not just Bridgeport.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Can someone explain why is it students have difficulty learning math? Regardless of the language used to teach, 2 times 2 = 4. If and when a child or student doesn’t get it, what does a teacher do next? What happens when a person who received their lessons in Spanish goes out into the real world (job) and most of the problems, issues or matters to be dealt with requires the usage of the English language? Do we blame the employer for not providing bilingual courses or bilingual staff?
    Learn English! Most orientals coming to America do well and I don’t see many oriental teachers. Aprenden inglés, idiotas.

    • Pete Spain

      Joel, yes, no doubt: English needs to be mastered.

      No surprise: A teacher who can help bridge the gap … by working in both English and the child’s at-home language (in many cases, here in B’port, Spanish) … that can be of great benefit.

      I find this myself when I work on, yes, math homework with many of the kids at Marin. I’ve found they think in Spanish. They are reluctant to explain this to you at first. So, if you keep it to English, they agonize and go very slowly in completing their computations. We’re making up for lost learning, no doubt. I’ve found some, above 5th grade, are still counting on their fingers!

      However, if you work through the problem in Spanish (and my Spanish is not very good) and then in English … back and forth … then … wow … watch out … the kids are speedy and building confidence. Sure, it takes a little extra time, but it sure beats mathematical illiteracy.

      John Marshall Lee: I’ve met no teachers so far who refuse to learn or, in many cases, brush up on basic Spanish … unless they are paid in addition to their current salary. The good news is many of us under 45 who were educated in the greater NY area learned Spanish in school … so it’s not as if teachers are being asked to learn Aramaic.

      Not sure how this Spanish-English-language issue applies … to smart board learning this past summer. It was explained to me by several teachers (not at Marin) there were suddenly announced last-minute meetings in the final weeks of the summer to jam new textbooks down the teachers’ throats and/or to make them learn smart boards. Meetings they attended.

      Most of us here agree on things. So let’s all try to overcome our differences and help improve the situation. Get your family and friends to vote. And if you’re interested in tutoring B’port school kids between 3:30 and 5:30 some weekday, I’d be glad to put you in touch with the appropriate person. peterdspain@gmail.com

  • Joel Gonzalez

    And still many are afraid to address the issue of the open border policies. Immigrants coming here and having children one after another. Let’s not use the word “Illegal” and just ignore how much of this starts. Lots of statistics like the 49% Hispanics. How may are from parents who are illegal? What’s their level of education and how are they supposed to help their kids learn? Should foreign aid to their country be cut and used here to teach them? Shouldn’t the federal government pay for the cost of their failure to control the borders and to comply with their federal mandates/laws?

  • Mojo

    *** Ideal role models for kids should start at the home with the immediate family first, then the extended family moving down the line with folks at their place of worship and close resident friends in their neighborhoods. After that of course is their schools, regardless of what color or gender the teachers may be! Good quality role-model teachers can come from any ethic background and in any skin color tones. Also from either an urban setting or the ‘burbs, male or female! And “sometimes,” just throwing more money into a failing school system does not guarantee overall success in academics either. Success is measured starting at the home, then in the school with the teacher, staff and good academic curriculum. Followed by a clean, safe friendly respectful environment for staff and kids with an active PTA, just for starters! *** NO POLITICS! ***

  • Mojo

    *** “QUESTION:” are there any “parents and staff suggestion boxes” in any of the Bpt school’s main office areas to promote feedback whether positive or negative towards goings-on in a particular school or the overall school system in general? And maybe the students should have a suggestions box too, no? ***

  • Mojo

    *** With such a disparity, it’s a wonder with all the money that’s collected yearly in teachers union dues, more is not used towards actually working directly towards fixing more problems that plague teachers on a day-to-day basis with the administration rather than throwing political money away at times on local BOE candidates who sometimes have good intentions but really don’t have a clue! ***

  • JMart

    That makes too much sense for them to handle, Mojo.

  • Donald Day

    Several of you people are letting your bigotry show. I read the article, then read some your responses and then went back and read the article again. I even read the article in the Independent and looked at the full report. I didn’t see anything in either document that alluded Bridgeport was getting the best because Bridgeport was getting white teachers. I see where several of you asked the question, “Don’t we want the best teachers?” Certainly Bridgeport wants the best teachers, but nothing in these documents states the white teachers aren’t better than the teachers of color, it just says there are more.

    In my humble opinion the fact there are significantly more white teachers than teachers of color speaks more to the hiring process, who’s running the hiring process, is the hiring process governed favoritism and are there barriers for people of color when applying for teaching positions in Bridgeport or the State of Connecticut for that matter.

    Let’s look at everything before we start proclaiming white superiority as it relates to Bridgeport teachers.

    • BOE SPY

      Don, your theory is, despite BPT’s program to hire minority teachers and the fact the total racial demographic of the teachers is in line with the country, there is a conspiracy afoot in BPT to hire white teachers regardless of competency? Granted BPT has too many black teachers and too few Hispanic but about 24% of the teachers are minority. There are significantly more white teachers than teachers of color because that is the makeup of our country. If you look a little farther in, you will see BPT has done a good job of hiring minorities. You would have to understand minorities are far less likely to go to college than whites. Then you would have to find out, of the minorities who do go to college, how many pursue teaching and want to work in the inner city? Regardless, BPT managed to hire a fair number of people from a very small group.
      No one was saying white teachers are better. The idea is if we are required to have, say, 50% male, minority teachers and we needed to hire a minority male to meet that percentage, then we could be forced to hire a minority male even if he wasn’t the best applicant. The ad could read ‘Teacher wanted. Whites need not apply.’
      Say we had two applicants. One is white lady with a PHD in education, top of her class from Yale. The other is a minority male who just got fired for absenteeism and is an active alcoholic. Who would we want to hire and who would we be required to hire? This is a situation we should want to avoid.

  • Donald Day

    Again BS, pun intended, you are letting your bigotry show. You compared a white teacher with a PhD in education from Yale to a minority male who just got fired for absenteeism and is an active alcoholic. Really, why wouldn’t you compare that white female teacher with a teacher of color with a PhD from Harvard? Why does the teacher of color have to be an alcoholic who was fired from a previous position?

    Nearly 60 years ago, Thurgood Marshall first “warned that Black teachers would lose their jobs to racist displacement as the nation’s schools were integrated. Marshall, in 1955, was serving at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when he reported on the impending plight of these teachers. The year before, Marshall had argued and won the landmark desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education that opened up classrooms and education to Black children. The elimination of Black teachers from the classroom is a disservice to their students and a detriment to the teaching profession.

    Today, Marshall’s sobering observations have proven true, say experts pointing to the academic and social benefits that come when African American and Hispanic students attend schools where racial and gender diversity of teachers and staff is high. But that doesn’t reflect the makeup of most urban public schools when “73 percent of teachers are White and 68 percent of principals are White. Black and other minority children are being taught in deeply racially isolated schools and are more likely to spend their entire K-12 education in public schools without ever seeing or having a teacher of color. This is the most populous generation of African American children who have never been taught by an African American teacher or who have never attended a school led by an African American principal.

    “What’s needed are teachers who respect our children and who can be ruthlessly demanding when it comes to expecting the best academically from children of color, as they do from white students.

    “And as practitioners and schools of education, we need to do more to ensure teachers better represent the students they teach. This includes thinking differently about recruitment and retention and about how we as a country view teaching.”

    “When you have a well-prepared African American man teaching black boys, the impact can be phenomenal,” said Brenda L. Townsend Walker, an attorney and a professor of special education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “I have interviewed African American male students who had pretty much written school off, whose teachers had given up on them, but whose lives were turned around when they got into a class with African American men. Generally speaking, they just have a better ability to relate to the students and mediate situations that others couldn’t handle.”

    Just another perspective.

    • BOE SPY

      OK Don, that was a hypothetical situation to show a point. Here is another. Say we get a minority male teacher, top of his class, best teacher in the world and a perfect role model. He comes in one day and a disenfranchised student has written ‘quota’ on the board. ‘Quota’ would refer to him being hired to fulfill the required quota on minority male teachers. My point? One, you cannot ‘make’ role models. A role model makes himself. Usually without trying. They are the kind of person who does the right thing because it is the right thing to do. A role model understands there is always a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ thing to do. Every choice has an easy way and a hard way. They also understand the right way is always the hard way. If the right way were the easy way everyone would do it. Two, the kids will know what is going on. You will have a young minority guy who wants to be a teacher. At first he will think he needs to work hard and strive to succeed. Then he will learn all he needs to do is be a minority just like the role models the school system has provided. The white teachers got where they got through hard work. The minorities … not so much.

      • Ron Mackey


        “Affirmative Action Has Helped White Women More Than Anyone”

        “Their successes make the case not for abandoning affirmative action but for continuing it”
        By Sally Kohn June 17, 2013

        In the coming days, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in a potentially landmark case on the constitutionality of affirmative action.

        The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of Abigail Fisher, a woman who claims that she was denied admission to the University of Texas because she is white. But study after study shows that affirmative action helps white women as much or even more than it helps men and women of color. Ironically, Fisher is exactly the kind of person affirmative action helps the most in America today.

        Originally, women weren’t even included in legislation attempting to level the playing field in education and employment.

        The first affirmative-action measure in America was an executive order signed by President Kennedy in 1961 requiring that federal contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”

        In 1967, President Johnson amended this, and a subsequent measure included sex, recognizing that women also faced many discriminatory barriers and hurdles to equal opportunity.

        Meanwhile, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only included sex in the list of prohibited forms of discrimination because conservative opponents of the legislation hoped that including it would sway moderate members of Congress to withdraw their support for the bill. Still, in a nation where white women and black people were once considered property–not allowed to own property themselves and not allowed to vote–it was clear to all those who were seeking fairness and opportunity that both groups faced monumental obstacles.

        While people of color, individually and as groups, have been helped by affirmative action in the subsequent years, data and studies suggest women–white women in particular–have benefited disproportionately. According to one study, in 1995, 6 million women, the majority of whom were white, had jobs they wouldn’t have otherwise held but for affirmative action.

        Another study shows that women made greater gains in employment at companies that do business with the federal government, which are therefore subject to federal affirmative-action requirements, than in other companies–with female employment rising 15.2% at federal contractors but only 2.2% elsewhere. And the women working for federal-contractor companies also held higher positions and were paid better.

        Even in the private sector, the advancements of white women eclipse those of people of color.

        After IBM established its own affirmative-action program, the numbers of women in management positions more than tripled in less than 10 years.

        Data from subsequent years show that the number of executives of color at IBM also grew, but not nearly at the same rate.

        The successes of white women make a case not for abandoning affirmative action but for continuing it. As the numbers in the Senate and the Fortune 500 show, women still face barriers to equal participation in leadership roles. Of course, the case for continuing affirmative action for people of color is even greater. The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households. Researchers found that the same résumé for the same job application will get twice as many callbacks for interviews if the name on the résumé is Greg instead of Jamal.

        School districts spend more on predominantly white schools than predominantly black schools.

        The fact that black workers earn, on average, 35% less than white workers in the same job isn’t erased by the election of an African-American President–one who, by the way, openly praises the role of affirmative action in his life and accomplishments.

        As for Fisher, there is ample evidence that she just wasn’t qualified to get into the University of Texas. After all, her grades weren’t that great, and the year she applied for the university, admissions there were actually more competitive than Harvard’s. In its court filings, the university has pointed out that even if Fisher received a point for race, she still wouldn’t have met the threshold for admissions. Yes, it is true that in the same year, the University of Texas made exceptions and admitted some students with lower grades and test scores than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

        • BOE SPY

          I think this article credits things to affirmative action it shouldn’t. There are other reasons for the rise of white women in the workplace. Let us not diminish the skills and abilities of women by suggesting the reason for their success is affirmative action. The article says ’6 million women, the majority of whom were white, had jobs they wouldn’t have otherwise held but for affirmative action.’ First off, the majority of all women are white. From time to time there are more white women than white men. Now is one of those times. Secondly, in the 1950s it was not the social convention for women to work at all. Even in the early ’60s women were socially expected to work in only a few fields (nursing, teaching, secretary). Now you have a time where maybe 15% of women worked and all but a few worked in a limited number of jobs. Then the social changes of the ’60s happened and women ‘break out’ of the stereotype entering the work force pursuing whatever job they wish. Affirmative action probably did help this but it is hardly the main reason for the success. As far as government contractor jobs, they would be union shops. They always pay more and advancement is based on seniority. School spending is dictated by property taxes and property taxes are based on property values. It would follow people from poor areas are going to have schools with less money but you would have to look at the relative cost of running a school in those areas. A school in Arkansas can run better on less money than a school in Greenwich due to cost of living. There is also the anomaly families get larger (on average) as people get poorer, making the plight of the school system more difficult. Comparing nationwide pay rates for workers is irrelevant if you do not associate the pay rate with that worker’s cost of living. So ‘the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households.’ What does this mean? The median income in CT is 20 times that of the median income of Louisiana but people who live in Louisiana have a better standard of living than someone of the same income in CT. Median income is the middle number when you list all incomes. Not the average. This article looks as if it was written by someone with an agenda. Many of the arguing points are suspect.

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