Diversity at Issue as States Weigh Teacher Entry

Diversity at Issue as States Weigh Teacher Entry

From the article: 

On the whole, “this is a very difficult issue with significant trade-offs,” said Douglas N. Harris, an associate professor of economics at Tulane University, in New Orleans, who has studied the links between teachers’ preservice characteristics and their classroom performance. “Ratcheting up the bar will reduce the supply of minority teachers because of the general achievement gap that still leaves minorities with lower academic achievement—which is the problem we are trying to solve.”

Just 17 percent of teachers are nonwhite, compared to about 40 percent of K-12 students, according to federal data.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, teacher diversity was being talked about from a cultural, ‘social justice’ perspective, but not with any real agenda for educative impact,” Mr. Eubanks said. “Now, it has the potential to help close the academic achievement gap, [but] it’s a piece that isn’t really being connected.”

“We need the best teachers in the classroom, irrespective of race,” said M. Christopher Brown, the president of the historically black institution. “I don’t think anyone would accept a lower-quality doctor during their heart transplant, based on an equity issue. The reality is that, as the bar rises, you have to meet it.”


Desegregation Orders

Desegregation Orders

From the article: 

Desegregation order: a federal court order that requires a school district to implement specific policies and practices in order to desegregate all schools within the district

Yes, we still have desegregation orders in Louisiana.  In fact, out of the state’s 69 local school districts, roughly 40 are still operating under desegregation court orders.  The majority of these orders have been in effect for over 40 years. 

School Integration: Ruby Bridges in Context

School Integration: Ruby Bridges in Context

During his time in New Orleans, Tavis caught up with New Orleans native Ruby Bridges, who, in 1960, was the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.

Bridges’ story—captured in Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With“—is bigger than New Orleans and bigger than the South.

Hers is the story of school integration for Blacks. And, while the landmark case for school desegregation is the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Bridges’ story—and the story of all Black students seeking an education in all-white schools—begins in the 19th century, when Blacks weren’t yet free.

(To see a video of Tavis’ reflections on Bridges, click here.)

Fifty Years Later: Students Remember Integrating New Orleans Schools

Fifty Years Later: Students Remember Integrating New Orleans Schools


Only one other student attended Frantz for the entire year: Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old African-American girl who, white ribbons in her hair, walked by herself into Frantz. At the same time, three other beribboned African-American 6-year-olds — Tessie Prevost, Gail Etienne and Leona Tate — integrated McDonogh No. 19 two miles away.

Around 10 that morning, as the word spread, white parents rushed to both 9th Ward schools to remove their children. A few hours later, all the white children were gone for good from McDonogh 19. According to School Board data, at least half ended up on free buses that took them every day from the 9th Ward to nearby St. Bernard Parish for classes in an industrial building that had been converted into an all-white school called the Arabi Elementary Annex

But at Frantz, a few white parents kept their children in class, determined to create a New Orleans school system that was truly integrated. By the end of the first week, the school’s rolls included only Bridges and two white girls, Foreman, 5, and Yolanda Gabrielle, 6.

Each was taught in a separate classroom, remembered Gabrielle, a first grader like Bridges at the time and now a therapist in Rhode Island. “That’s the irony of this: We were still kept segregated,” she said, recalling that she caught sight of Bridges only once, through a slightly open classroom door.

New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long

WATCH the video; link embedded at the bottom.

For the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Tavis Smiley Reports visited New Orleans, capturing the mood and spirit of the city’s courageous residents five years after the levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Tavis reflects: “We see two sides of the city—the tourist areas that have been redeveloped with federal funds, and the devastated neighborhoods where everyday people have taken it upon themselves to get their homes rebuilt, their schools reopened, and their lives back.”

For the program, Tavis reunited with Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, who spent five years chronicling the people of New Orleans as they struggled to recover and rebuild their city.

Watch New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.