Educating Harlem
A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Chapter 13. Teaching Harlem: Black Teachers and the Changing Educational Landscape of Twenty-First Century Central Harlem

by Bethany L. Rogers and Terrenda C. White

Chapter 13 Map

Map design by Rachael Dottle and customized for chapter by Rachel Klepper. Map research by Rachel Klepper. Map layers from: Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Urban Planning, City of New York; Atlas of the city of New York, borough of Manhattan. From actual surveys and official plans / by George W. and Walter S. Bromley New York Public Library Map Warper; Manhattan Land book of the City of New York. Desk and Library ed. [1956]; New York Public Library Map Warper; and State of New Jersey GIS. Point locations from: School Directories, New York City Board of Education, New York Amsterdam News via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and multiple archival sources cited in relevant chapters.

Who taught in Harlem? What did the presence, or absence, of Black teachers in this historically Black community mean for teachers, schools, and students? Teaching has long occupied a special place in the history of African American communities, as the discussion of Harlem Renaissance artists who were also teachers helps show in chapter 1 of this volume. Despite theoretically objective notions of teacher “quality,” teachers’ identities—who they are, what attributes they bring to bear, and how those factors are perceived to support students’ opportunities to learn—have mattered a great deal historically as well as today. In an era in which there were few Black teachers in New York City or Harlem, Black teachers were key figures and activists at Wadleigh High School (see chapter 3 of this volume). Black (and white) teachers used the structure of the union to further activism, as described in chapters 4 and 6 of this volume. Just as the nature of teaching is central to schooling, understanding teaching is fundamental to a deeper understanding of Harlem’s educational history. The questions of who taught and who should teach animated debates over community control in the 1960s, reflected both compliance and resistance to central school district mandates in the 1980s, and took on new meaning in early twenty-first century Harlem, given an educational landscape with a large and growing number of charter schools.

Starting in 1966, New York state or city authorities collected statistics documenting the “racial/ethnic profiles” of New York City teachers.1 Examining these data for Central Harlem between 1972 and 2015 reveals that in 1972, in a city where Black teachers had been severely underrepresented as compared to the majority Black and Latinx student population, nearly half of Central Harlem’s teachers were Black. This proportion grew to a high point of 70 percent in the year 2000 and then began a precipitous decline, so that by 2015, only about 45 percent of the area’s teachers were Black.

This chapter seeks to document these trends and identify some of the social and political forces, competing visions of schooling, and transformative events of the time that shaped Harlem’s teaching force during this period. Contextualized within this longer historical trajectory, the chapter also ponders what it has meant to some Black teachers to teach within the new educational landscape of twenty-first-century Harlem. The ebb and flow of Black teachers in Central Harlem reveal differing definitions of teacher quality, which variously prioritized race, culture, or credentials; tensions between teacher agency and the systemic ghettoization of Black teachers; and the evolving struggle of a community to access educational opportunity for their children. This account is not definitive, but it is an initial effort to trace who taught in Harlem, suggest meaningful continuities and disruptions across Harlem’s educational past and present, and raise questions that invite further research.

In the period from 1972 to 1999, the proportion of Black teachers rose, and between 2000 and 2015, it declined.2 These periods span the 1969 decentralization of New York City schools and the reconsolidation of the system (under Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2002), governance changes that reshaped the city’s educational system and reconfigured the way Harlem was defined as an educational unit in the larger city. These were also periods of educational change: the persistent quest on the part of Harlemites for educational opportunity and self-determination, including through community control and charter schools, and national and local shifts in ideas about teacher quality and teacher preparation, licensing, and assignment. These narratives intersect in the story of Harlem’s teachers, and they have resonance as well for the larger history of Black teachers in northern urban communities in the post–civil rights period.

Regarding the geographic scope of this inquiry, Harlem is divided into three different local school districts within New York City—Districts 3, 4, and 5—effectively turning Harlem into “Harlems”3 (see chapter 11, figure 11.1 in this volume). In this chapter, we concentrate on the story of Central Harlem’s District 5. Unlike District 3, which loops into the Upper West Side of Manhattan to incorporate white, affluent blocks, or District 4, which contains a large Latinx presence, District 5 has long been known as a primarily Black or African American community (though that has changed over the past several decades, part of the larger story of transformation in regard to who teaches in Harlem).

Scholars of African American history have long placed educators at the center of their narratives, as far back as W. E. B. Du Bois’s depiction of reconstruction schools in The Souls of Black Folk, given the bond between schooling and hopes for racial progress.4 Over the past thirty years historians have produced a rich scholarly accounting of African American teachers who taught in segregated Black schools in the Jim Crow and post–Brown v. Board of Education South. These histories variously explore Black teachers’ beliefs about and intentions for teaching,5 their pedagogical approaches and the quality of their teaching,6 and the status these teachers held in their communities.7 Much of this literature suggests that “engaged, caring faculties,” along with powerful parental investment and community support, characterized the best versions of segregated African American schools.8 Such accounts further establish themes of “connectedness” on the part of Black teachers to their community as well as a sense of obligation, as relatively socially privileged individuals within struggling communities, to racial uplift.9 Many Black teachers held high expectations for their students, going above and beyond the confines of the classroom to support them, and taking responsibility not only for academic instruction but also for students’ “life success—and for the long term success of the African American people.”10

The history of Black teachers who taught in the urban north in the post–civil rights period has not been nearly as well-documented as that of southern Black teachers. A notable exception is the work of Christina Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” which considers why the proportion of minority teachers in some urban centers remained so low during the postwar era, despite growing populations of students of color in American cities.11 Collins draws on the particularly egregious example of New York City, where a pernicious “network of institutional racism” shaped the selection of teachers and resulted in a system in which, as late as 1975, only 13 percent of the city’s teachers were not white, though the proportion of students of color had risen to 64 percent.12 In exposing the ways that different stages in the New York City Board of Education (BOE) process for becoming an educator filtered out teachers of color, Collins makes an invaluable contribution regarding the metropolis as a whole, ultimately showing how the removal of such barriers over time led to growing representation of Black teachers.13

Collins documents a crucial macro story of Black teachers’ struggles to gain purchase within the enmeshed system of accreditation, licensing, hiring, and advancement in the New York City public schools, but her account contains tantalizingly little evidence of what Black teachers themselves made of their experiences. From the sparse literature that exists about Black teachers in the post–Brown urban north, we can surmise that most of them continued to teach in segregated schools, and that many also persisted in their special commitment to their Black students and to making schooling a part of a larger liberation strategy, even if not all Black teachers understood their work and their students in the same ways.14

Aggregate urban stories about New York have obscured the unique and at times divergent accounts of particular communities, such as Harlem, within the larger metropolis. The racial and ethnic profile of Harlem teachers departs from that of New York City as a whole during the decentralization period, roughly 1969–2000. This chapter offers quantitative and qualitative views of Central Harlem’s teacher population shifts from 1970 to 2015, with preliminary queries about the sources and meanings of these shifts.

Teachers in Harlem, 1972–2000

For as long as Black children remained segregated (by “law and custom”), teaching presented a significant professional opportunity for Blacks.15 Thus, in the early part of the twentieth century, Black teachers in America overwhelmingly taught Black children in the segregated South.16 By midcentury, approximately 82,000 African American teachers were teaching 2 million African American public school students, though major northern cities still had relatively few Black teachers in relation to their Black populations.17 But the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision precipitated a dramatic decline in Black teachers: between 1954 and 1972, over 39,000 Black teachers lost their jobs in 17 southern states, and from 1970 to 1986, African American participation in the overall teaching force steadily waned.18 Starting in the late 1980s, although the number of Black teachers actually increased (a factor of a growing national teaching corps), the actual proportion of Black teachers continued to shrink, dropping from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent of the country’s teaching force.19

Against this period of national decline, New York City looks quite different, at least between 1972 and 2000, when Black teachers increased from 9.5 percent to almost 21 percent of the teaching force. Harlem’s District 5 also saw a trend upward in the proportion of Black teachers, though at a different order of magnitude. In 1972, half of the educators in District 5 were Black—a powerful preponderance compared to less than 10 percent citywide. That proportion grew to nearly 70 percent in District 5 by the year 2000 (figure 13.1).20

Proportions of Black educators in District 5 compared to NYC overall, 1972–2000.

As the share of Black teachers in District 5 grew, so did the ranks of those defined as Latinx teachers, from a tiny 1 percent representation in the early 1970s to 12 percent by 2000.21 And as the proportions of District 5 Black and Latinx teachers expanded during these years, the fraction of District 5 white educators shrank correspondingly, from nearly 50 percent in 1972 to 17 percent by the year 2000. Within a city historically hostile to hiring Black teachers, they made up a growing majority of District 5’s teaching force from the late 1970s through the end of the century (figure 13.2).

Racial/Ethnic Distribution of District 5 Educators, 1972–2000

What factors interacted to cause this high proportion of Black teachers in District 5? Why did that proportion rise between 1972 and 2000? The answers to these questions depend in part on the persistent segregation of Harlem’s schools, the predilections of the city’s white teachers, and the politics of hiring practices. More broadly, the phenomenon may also have been influenced by changing demographics, the dynamics of District 5’s Community School Board, as well as the powerful demand on the part of parents for community control of the schools, which served to support and sustain more African American and Latinx teachers.

Exclusion, Segregation, and Teacher Hiring

Over the past several decades, New York State has earned the dubious honor of being the state with the highest degree of school segregation; according to researchers, the New York metropolitan area in particular reflects “persistent residential and educational segregation” as well as a failure to develop viable desegregation plans for schools.22 The high proportion of Black teachers in District 5 bears out a national historical pattern in which Black teachers are and have been concentrated in districts (or schools) that serve high proportions of students of color.23 In New York City in particular, there has been a “strong tendency” over the twentieth century to assign teachers according to “their ethnic and racial match” with students.24 In the early 1970s, when only 10 percent of all New York City teachers were Black, only about 20 percent of New York City’s total populace was Black.25 At the same time, District 5’s community population was 85 percent Black, and the district contained a much higher proportion (nearly 50 percent) of Black teachers.26

This racial imbalance across the city was the result of both white educators’ preferences and the city’s hiring and assignment policies. Well before the decentralization period under consideration, many experienced teachers (the vast majority of whom were white) sought to avoid working in Harlem, citing “difficult” schools, often code for Black students living in poverty, but also indicative of poor conditions in the area’s schools.27 Through the early and mid-1960s, the teachers’ union successfully fought mandatory transfers of experienced teachers to schools serving low-income students despite evidence of continued staffing inadequacies in such schools.28 And United Federation of Teachers (UFT) lobbying helped to ensure that the 1969 decentralization law would preserve aspects of the centralized hiring system for teachers (a hedge against the splintering of union power): the Community School Boards (CSBs) were “most restricted in their authority over the hiring, promotion, transfer, and firing of teachers.”29

Continued unequal teacher assignment patterns by race caught the attention of the U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in 1972 and, though never as incendiary an issue as student segregation, provoked a federal investigation.30 Findings revealed that minority teachers were “grossly underrepresented” across the city, and that teachers of color were channeled to and “highly concentrated” in minority schools.31 Both Black and white educators roundly condemned the Board of Education’s 1977 remedy, in which teachers of color would select their teaching assignments from one list of schools, and white teachers would choose from another, each list designed to contrast with the teachers’ racial identification. Teachers’ dismay suggested not only white teachers’ discomfort in being assigned to Black schools. More broadly, it meant that a “statistical approach to addressing education equity” failed to address the desire on the part of many Black teachers to “go where you are needed,” as opposed to counting as just “another Black face,” and further ignored Black parents’ calls for more teachers who looked like them.32

Even with intervention from the OCR, race-matching patterns of teacher assignment seem to have persisted, occurring “not only as a result of past practice,” but well into the 1980s.33 In fact, the pattern the OCR sought to remedy—race matching of teachers and students—came to be seen as desirable by many Black teachers, parents, and community members, revealing the tension between an ideal of providing Black role models for Black students and the ideal of a more desegregated distribution of faculty across the city.34

In the decades following the OCR agreement, Board of Education policy called for licensed teachers to be randomly assigned to schools from the board’s central office, as a means of ensuring teacher diversity and filling hard-to-staff positions across the city.35 Principals had the right to refuse up to two candidates, but were then obligated to hire the third. Beneath this official system, however, Collins maintains that “insider knowledge” and connections remained an important factor in acquiring desirable placements, and not only in the 1960s and 1970s.36 Studies conducted in the late 1980s and mid-1990s also support this contention, indicating that many teachers were actually hired by principals through a much more informal process “through someone they knew in a school or district or because they were already known to the school through their experience as a student teacher, para[professional], or substitute teacher.”37 Principals realized that if they hired unlicensed teachers through an informal network, they could gain a far greater say in who they hired than if they followed the formal process through the central office.

According to one researcher, teachers of color fared poorly in this system, because they lacked contacts in these informal networks.38 Indeed, Eulene Iniss, who worked as a principal in District 5 at one point in her career, described encountering “a lot of nepotism, and a lot of discrimination,” in the Board of Education hierarchy.39 But some educators of color suggested otherwise. Barbara Wilson-Brooks, who was a student at District 5’s Public School (PS) 133 in the late 1960s, remembered that a lot of the individuals who worked in the schools “as paraprofessionals . . . teachers, or teachers’ aides” lived in the community, implying membership in a local network.40 (Nick Juravich agrees that paraprofessionals came from the local community, though he notes that teachers were less likely to; see chapter 10 in this volume.) A District 4 teacher in East Harlem recalled that she got her job in the late 1980s because “I knew somebody. . . . And then . . . they liked me so much that they made ways for me to stay in the community to teach.”41 Although only speculation, it seems plausible that, as in other teacher job markets across the city, District 5 principals found ways to hire adults—paras and teachers—who belonged to a common informal network within the community and shared important beliefs about how Harlem students should be educated.

While hiring on the basis of personal connections may have helped to bind the community and the school, the practice was complicated by the widespread employment of uncredentialed teachers, a chronic issue in Harlem. Such teachers may well have brought critical knowledge of the community to bear, but they lacked the formal qualifications meant to certify their ability to teach. For example, the East Harlem teacher who found her job through personal contacts also acknowledged feeling “bad,” as she had no teaching degree—only a BA in psychology—or experience when she was hired.42 But she was hardly alone. Of those who started teaching in New York City in 1988, for example, a staggering 88 percent began as temporary per diem substitutes (TPDs). Some of those new teachers had completed programs of teacher preparation and were awaiting approval for certification, but more than three-quarters of them were “‘emergency’ TPDs,” with little or no training.43

Prior research makes a convincing argument for the “substantial sorting of teachers across schools” in which high proportions of those uncertified and inexperienced teachers taught in districts with high percentages of minority students and teachers of color.44 The implications are stark: although children of color may encounter greater numbers of teachers of color, they are also less likely to have fully certified and experienced teachers. For some, these overlaps may suggest an unfortunate and simplistic association between teachers of color and educational problems in urban schools. The reality is more complex: there likely were some incompetent teachers in District 5, as in other districts, but credentialing has not always operated as an accurate proxy for teacher quality either. Indeed, principals in District 5 likely held competing perceptions of what counted as “quality,” which included not only licensure but also identity and belonging in the community, for example, which may have informed hiring decisions. Taken together, these competing perceptions suggest that the dichotomy of credentialed versus uncredentialed teachers, although valid, misses key areas of value that mattered within the community and may have helped produce hiring and retention of Black teachers in Harlem at a greater pace than in other parts of New York City.

Decentralization, the Fiscal Crisis, and Parent Dissatisfaction

Battles over community control, which culminated in the citywide 1968 teachers’ strike precipitated by events in Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville demonstration district, ultimately led to the passage of the 1969 decentralization legislation that divided Harlem into Districts 3, 4, and 5. Though not necessarily reflected in the letter of the law, community control activists had achieved some success in promoting the importance of hiring more teachers of color in schools serving students of color. Decentralization itself did not necessarily cause the increase of Black teachers in District 5. But concurrent with the enactment of decentralization, explicit consideration of race had become part of hiring, whether in the guise of OCR’s efforts to even out citywide imbalances or under the auspices of a local school principal’s efforts to hire more African American and Latinx teachers in the belief that more teachers of color would better the education of students of color.45

Decentralization was a troubled time in Central Harlem’s District 5. Reflecting on those first years of decentralization, Bernard R. Gifford, the chancellor at the time, suggested that the Community School Board in District 5 was “beset by troubles,” including “tangled affairs and mismanagement,” from the outset.46 Yet, as the education historian Heather Lewis points out, the rollout of decentralization occurred against the backdrop of fiscal austerity, a prelude to the full-blown fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s as discussed by Kim Phillips-Fein and Esther Cyna (chapter 11 of this volume). The economic woes of the time severely inhibited the implementation of all reforms for education and equity, but the fiscal crisis profoundly altered the teaching force. Cutbacks on the part of the city forced teacher layoffs: elementary schools lost 21 percent of their faculties over two years, and junior high and high schools cut 16 percent of their teachers. Novice teachers were let go first, so that by 1977, 85 percent of the teaching workforce had over five years of experience, an increase of more than 15 percent from 1975.47 These years align with a slight downturn—about 2 percent —in the proportion of Black teachers in District 5 that occurred between 1977 and 1980; it is plausible that many of the laid-off teachers in District 5 were Black and, on average, less senior in the system and thus more vulnerable to layoffs.48

Beyond the retrenchments associated with the fiscal crisis, troubles associated with the District 5 Community School Board also took their toll on “educational quality and staff morale” in the schools.49 Rapid turnover of superintendents and political infighting on the District 5 CSB made for difficult working conditions and poorly performing schools. And although the community appreciated the presence of Black teachers, many parents’ frustrations with the quality of Harlem’s schools centered on teachers, some of whom they accused of being insensitive, abusive, or unwilling to educate Harlem children. The belief that District 5 served as a “dumping ground” for ineffective or otherwise objectionable teachers haunted these years. In one 1974 case, parents at PS 46 forced out and then protested the reinstatement of four teachers they believed were incompetent or not qualified. Two of the teachers were rumored to have used corporal punishment; all four (three of whom were white, one of whom was Black) had received unsatisfactory ratings from the principal.50 As a New York Times account reported, “One woman [from the community] asserted that P.S. 46 had been turned into a receiving center for teachers rejected elsewhere, and she said angrily: ‘Send the garbage to Canarsie,’” a white working class community in Brooklyn.51 Conversely, two years later, parents and students at Intermediate School (IS) 10 protested the removal of nine popular teachers, who were dismissed (part of the financial cutbacks during the fiscal crisis) to make room for teachers with greater seniority, and the subsequent failure of those teachers’ replacements to show up at the school.52 By 1984, District 5 (along with other districts serving New York City’s poorest neighborhoods) faced a severe teacher shortage. The superintendent of District 5 at the time, Luther Seabrook, called the situation a “disaster,” declaring that “‘these kids are getting ripped off twice—once because they’re perceived as being in a school district incapable of properly educating them, and secondly because they’re incapable of being served by qualified teachers.’”53

Between the years of 1972 and 2000, Harlem’s District 5 presented a stark contrast to the overall demographics of the New York City teaching force. At a time when Black teachers made up less than 10 percent of teachers in the city, they composed nearly half of District 5’s educators—a proportion that would increase to nearly 70 percent by the year 2000. Many factors appear to have played a role. The city continued to facilitate a segregated system, in which white teachers (aided by the UFT) found ways to opt out of teaching in Black communities like Harlem. Meanwhile, although decentralization failed to provide Community School Boards with the authority to hire teachers, local principals across the city flouted the formal centralized system of teacher assignment in favor of informal hires. In District 5, this workaround afforded the hiring of a greater number of Black teachers—and may have driven the growth of Black teachers in Harlem during the decentralization years—but it accompanied the hiring of many uncertified teachers. And finally, although hiring more Black teachers was a goal for many activist efforts in New York as well as elsewhere from the 1960s onward, during these years, District 5 exhibited both high numbers of Black teachers and continued dissatisfaction on the part of some parents regarding school and teacher quality.

Teachers in Twenty-First Century Harlem

Between 1972 and 2000, District 5 saw both a greater plurality of Black teachers than was found across the city and a steady upward trend in the proportion of Black teachers, but the year 2000 marked an acute turning point. The presence of Black teachers in District 5 began a sharp decline: over the subsequent fifteen years, the proportion of Black teachers fell by a third, and the concomitant proportions of White, Latinx, and Asian teachers grew (figure 13.3).54

Racial/Ethnic Distribution of District 5 Educators, 2000-2015

Figure 13.3 Racial/Ethnic Distribution of District 5 Educators, 2000-2015. Source: Information regarding the racial and ethnic profile of teachers in Harlem between 2000 and 2015 comes from New York City Independent Budget Office (hereafter NYCIBO) Public School Teacher Data, which was provided by Ray Domanico, the director at the time, upon request, September 22, 2016.

This decline in Central Harlem may reflect a limitation of the data: the state does not collect information about charter school faculty in the same way it does about district school teachers. Charter schools have grown rapidly in Harlem, with approximately twenty-two operating there as of 2013–2014.55 As charters grew, Board of Education schools held a shrinking share of the school market. A shrinking population of Black teachers now taught in a smaller number of district schools and were part of a smaller pool of BOE teachers in Harlem. District 5’s teaching population declined from 1,023 in 2000 to 984 in 2015.56 Were Black teachers leaving District 5 in general, or were they leaving district schools for charter schools? Although the latter is certainly possible, the declining portion of Black teachers in District 5 between 2000 and 2015 is not an outlier. According to New York City Independent Budget Office data, the proportion of Black teachers in New York City overall declined by several percentage points between 2000 and 2012, from 21 percent to 19 percent, within a teacher workforce that shrank by about 5 percent, representing a drop of nearly 15 percent in the share of Black teachers in New York City.57 (Although the decline has occurred across schools, Black educators remain more heavily concentrated in high-poverty schools such as those in Harlem). This pattern has been replicated in other large urban districts such as Cleveland, and in cities with large charter school sectors, such as New Orleans.58

What led to this decline in the proportion of Black teachers in District 5 in the twenty-first century? Several factors, including substantial changes in New York State’s laws regarding teacher credentialing and hiring requirements as well as innovations in the city’s educational policy—which led to district school closures and the emergence of a concentrated charter school market—influenced the presence of Black educators in District 5. Interviews with Black educators offer on-the-ground perspectives regarding the choices of Black teachers and the meanings they attached to their work in District 5 during the first fifteen years of this century.

Changes in the Pipeline: Teacher Credentialing and Hiring Policy

The twenty-first century brought sweeping changes to public education across the country, including a mix of centralized accountability mandates by the federal government and decentralized governance structures at state and local levels, many designed to shift control of major aspects of public schools to external groups. Likewise, an array of somewhat contradictory federal and state policies aimed to ratchet up the quality of teachers through tightening requirements and standards in some cases and loosening or even circumventing them in others. The passage of charter legislation, which allowed for new pathways into the classroom, offers an example of “loosening.” But New York State also tightened requirements. In 2001, the New York State Regents and Commissioner Richard Mills developed a “comprehensive plan to improve teaching” that involved raising standards for teacher education programs and certification.59 These elevated standards, combined with Mills’s successful suit against the New York Board of Education to require a certified teacher in every classroom of the state’s failing schools, directly challenged and ultimately changed the city’s standard practice of hiring uncertified teachers.60 Over the subsequent decade and a half, New York City, including Harlem’s District 5, saw a consistent increase in permanently certified teachers, and concomitant decrease in the employment of teachers with temporary and provisional certification.61 Researchers found that the teacher qualifications gap that had characterized New York City schools declined appreciably in just the first five years of the new policies. Simultaneous to the “virtual elimination of newly hired uncertified teachers” was “an influx of teachers with strong academic backgrounds from alternative certification programs.” There was also some sleight of hand, as some teachers on alternative routes to become certified were given waivers to teach.62

The influx of teachers in alternate route programs signifies a second, significant break with the past. New pathways to the classroom, such as Teach For America and the New York City Teaching Fellows, drew a new population of teachers, many from outside the community, into Harlem schools.63 The proportion of new teachers who entered District 5 from alternate pathways has varied—in 2012–13, nearly half of the new hires in the district came from alternate paths, including the New York City Teaching Fellows, but only slightly over 30 percent of the 2014–15 new hires arrived by way of alternate routes—though such paths nevertheless represent a relatively substantial share of teachers hired into district schools.64

Alternate pathways to teaching grew alongside the expansion of charter schools. Nationwide, charter schools report higher proportions of teachers of color compared to district schools (27 percent and 16 percent, respectively).65 Urban charter schools, however, when compared to existing workforce patterns, report lower shares of new teacher hires who are Black, despite enrolling much higher proportions of Black students than district schools.66 Therefore, urban charter schools in cities such as New York yield wider representation gaps between Black students and teachers compared to district schools.67 For example, in 2012, New York City’s charter sector had a representation gap between Black students and teachers that was four times higher than the district sector (36.9 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively).68

Several other pipeline issues may have affected the presence of Black teachers in Harlem. Between 2002 and 2012, influenced in part by the No Child Left Behind legislation (which called for a “qualified” teacher in every classroom by 2006), state-level praxis exams and the National Teacher Exam became “increasingly important in teacher selection in New York City,” as well as in other urban districts that depended on federal funding.69 The ethnic difference in passing rates on such assessments has been well documented, and suggests that the tests operated as an obstacle for teachers of color.70 In addition, the 1970 Open Admissions policy of City University of New York (the source of the lion’s share of New York City’s teachers) had helped the city to grow its proportion of minority teachers in the 1970s and 1980s by guaranteeing entry to almost all New York City graduates and providing an affordable path to teaching. But the introduction of tuition (courtesy of the 1975 fiscal crisis), as well as tightening admissions, new curricular requirements, and rising tuitions – trends begun in the 1980s but accelerated after the year 2000 – undercut the numbers of eligible Black and Latinx candidates.71

The decline of Black teachers may be more than a pipeline issue, however. Scholars have pointed out that retention is critical, and is a problem particularly for teachers of color.72 Nationally, minority teachers are hired at a higher proportional rate than other teachers, but they are also leaving the profession at higher rates than other teachers, both voluntarily and involuntarily.73 In 2012, for example, the rate of involuntary turnover was much higher for Black teachers than for all other teachers, a phenomenon directly related to “school closings in urban districts due both to declining enrollments and sanctions” (the latter targeted to underperforming schools); Black teachers who choose to leave (“voluntary leavers”) often do so out of dissatisfaction with job conditions, rather than (as with non-Black teachers) personal or family reasons.74

Local data show that a growing proportion of recent new hires in District 5 are Black teachers: in 2010, only 18 percent of new teachers hired in District 5 were Black; by 2014, 30 percent were.75 But of all new teachers hired in 2011, less than 50 percent were still teaching in District 5 four years later. About a quarter of those teachers who left went to teaching positions elsewhere in New York City, and the remaining quarter represented those who were no longer employed by the New York City Department of Education. If Harlem follows national trends, Black teachers may well have turned over in the district at greater rates than other demographics, contributing to their declining share of the teaching force there.

Changes in Educational Policy: Charters and Choice

The particular struggles changed over time, but Harlem residents maintained a strong, if often thwarted, desire for access to high-quality education for their children. Looking at the last few decades of the twentieth century, it becomes clear that New York City public schools’ continued apathy (or even resistance) toward responding to the community’s demands helped sustain the activism for educational self-determination that emerged in the 1960s and ultimately laid the groundwork for many twenty-first-century developments. In part a result of this activism, as demonstrated through the story of Babette Edwards (see chapter 11 in this volume), school choice and the development and expansion of charter schools fundamentally transformed the educational landscape of District 5 and reshaped its teaching force.

In New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg achieved mayoral control of the schools in 2002, new policies sought to standardize curricula and other practices across schools, while others devolved control to individual school sites in return for outcomes-focused accountability. The Bloomberg administration’s policies showed a preference for market-based reforms expressly designed to foster choice and competition between schools, and school choice and charter schools emerged as two central strategies of the Bloomberg era. Under the tenure of the Bloomberg appointee Chancellor Joel Klein, and in the wake of New York’s 1998 law authorizing charter schools, market reformers who had long abhorred educational bureaucracy could finally restructure the financial, organizational, and human resource parameters of the city’s public schools. But charter schools also drew an enthusiastic audience from among parents and community groups in disenfranchised communities, where the struggle to access better educational options for their children carried into the twenty-first century. Activists such as Babette Edwards turned to charters to create public schools better aligned with the educational values of the community. Harlem went on to become a chief base for charter expansion, accounting for nearly two-thirds of Manhattan’s charter schools in the subsequent decade.76

Although there is a lack of centralized data about charter school teachers, including their racial composition, in New York, some evidence suggests that the nascent sector suffered from an underrepresentation of teachers of color, particularly Black teachers, that was more severe than in district schools.77 However, we know little about whether Black teachers were more prevalent in Harlem’s charter schools than in charters in other areas of the city; in other words, it is not clear whether charters were replicating the uneven distributions of teachers found in district schools, and whether Harlem charters followed or diverged from other charter schools in the city, state, or country.

Studies featuring interviews with teachers in charter schools in Harlem suggest that early charters may have been havens for Black teachers, particularly those interested in establishing long-desired alternative educational environments.78 For example, the African American teachers Derek Andrews and Marvin Humphrey began their careers in one of Harlem’s first charter schools, which were founded by community-based organizations with parents and teachers on the boards of trustees.79 Recalling his decision to work in a small stand-alone charter school in 2000, Humphrey described a longing for a sense of community, “I’m from Harlem. I was born in Harlem. I went to school in Harlem. I love this community, and I love the rapport I have with people in the community.”80 Humphrey’s charter school was housed in a building funded by a community-based organization. The school sought to provide a flexible learning environment for students, promoted a keen awareness of cultural heritage, used project-based learning, and leveraged community resources, such as parks or museums, for educational experiences.

Humphrey’s school was emblematic of early Harlem charter schools. However, a new wave of charter schools would soon emerge, with different curricular priorities. In 2007, legislators passed an amendment that raised the initial limit on the number of charters that could operate in New York from 100 to 200. In 2010, in an effort to secure federal grants from President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, legislators again lifted the cap, approving authorizations for more than 200 additional charters and ushering in a second phase of charter expansion. With the new caps, charter authorizers anticipated more than 400 charter schools, with approximately 136 already in operation in the city by 2012, primarily located in three neighborhoods: Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.81

At this new scale, both the sponsoring organizations and the curricular emphasis of many charters changed. By 2008 this new crop of charters showed up in Harlem. These were schools founded by high-profile national charter management organizations (CMOs), which coordinated operations and curricular programming in multiple schools from central offices in the city by way of regional managers and prominent executives.82 Harlem became a particularly intensive site of charter expansion. Manhattan contained six community school districts with approximately fifty-nine charter schools in operation in 2012–13; those districts encompassing Harlem housed the largest share of those charters (approximately forty-four), with Central Harlem alone accommodating the greatest saturation (approximately twenty-two charters).83 Stand-alone charters tied to community groups, such has Humphrey’s school, came to represent a minority of the charter population, as nearly two-thirds of all the Harlem charters were managed by CMOs in 2013–14; in fact, just three CMOs managed approximately half of all charter schools in the neighborhood.84

Charter expansion coincided with high-stakes accountability mandates, which included interventionist “turnaround” efforts to improve low-performing schools. Such efforts resulted in the closing of scores of district schools across the city. Since 2002, 140 out of roughly 1,800 New York City schools were closed, especially in epicenters of charter saturation such as Harlem. In similar situations in New Orleans and other cities, district school closures helped depress Black teacher employment, as these teachers fared less well in the expanding charter sector.85

The teacher recruitment pool for CMO charters was also distinct: many teachers came from out of state via alternative teacher certification programs, such as Teach For America, and expressed short-term interests in teaching, with an eye toward business, law, leadership, or social entrepreneurship in the longer run. Teachers in CMO charters were rarely unionized and worked as at-will employees, setting the stage for top-down decision making by leaders and tenuous relationships between CMO managers and teachers.86 Shawn Lewis, an African American male teacher who taught in one of Harlem’s charter schools, struggled with CMO managers and private donors: “The idea from donors was that ‘we are giving your school all of this money, so where are our results?’ But when money came, the quality of instruction became diluted . . . It was suddenly about quick, short results.”87 Lewis eventually left his CMO charter for a stand-alone charter school, which he described as a better match for his ideas about teaching and learning: “My [old charter school] wasn’t really about developing the whole child. They were about ‘results.’ That’s it.”88

Several CMO charters in Harlem had some of the highest teacher turnover rates in the city and state. Turnover for all teachers (district and charter) in the state was 11 percent in 2015–16, but 24 percent of District 5 (district and charter) teachers turned over from 2015–16 to 2016–17. The rise in the number of charter schools in District 5 likely exacerbated the district’s already high turnover rate, as nearly all charter schools reported turnover rates above the state average in 2015–16. One large CMO, in particular, had three schools in District 5 with turnover rates that doubled the district’s average in 2015–16, including Success Academy 2 (56 percent turnover), Success Academy 4 (48 percent turnover), and Success Academy 5 (65 percent turnover).89

Some Black educators in Harlem, however, were drawn to its new charter sector, particularly those who had worked in district schools and experienced years of overcrowding and inadequate resources. Theresa Sanders, for example, is an African American teacher who left her district school—where “just to get a ream of paper was gold!”—to work as a third-grade teacher in one of Harlem’s largest chains of CMO charters; as she recalled, “The materials alone were enough to leave my district school.”90 Sanders’s experience is not farfetched. According to studies of national CMOs, many organizations enjoy significant private investment, yielding upward of $5,700 in additional per pupil spending (on average). In Sanders’s charter school, private donations likely pushed total funding beyond 30 percent of average per pupil funding in the city’s district schools.91 Despite the largesse, however, Sanders described the same kind of struggles that Lewis identified, including a lack of autonomy and decision-making authority about how to teach, particularly in the face of powerful donors and a largely white cadre of central managers: “I mean it’s not that many of us [Blacks] in the CMO. I could probably count on one hand how many Black people there are. . . . And they [CMO managers] go about this whole bullying tactic with teachers. Managers try to bully teachers into doing what they [the managers] want . . . but they should want people to do things because they [people] see the value in it, not because they [managers] tell us to do it.”92 Limited by weak teacher protections (CMO teachers are usually at-will workers and rarely have tenure or belong to unions with a collective bargaining agreement), Theresa Sanders ultimately left her charter school in Harlem to seek work in schools where working conditions, as she described, were less rigid and hierarchical.

Unlike Sanders, some educators in Harlem’s new charter sector left their schools involuntarily. Anthony Charles, an African American teacher who worked as a math coach in a CMO charter school in District 5, noted that he was “let go” (a nonrenewal of his teaching contract) unexpectedly in the summer before his fourth year with the school. “I worked for that CMO for three and half years, and my dismissal took two minutes.”93 Charles attributed his layoff to philosophical differences between teachers, leaders, and managers: “The school had a great reputation and many of our board members were famous millionaires and billionaires, but they operated from a business standpoint. So they were only looking at children’s test scores or results, and to them teachers were either getting results or not getting results.”94 After his termination, Charles questioned the results-driven strategies of those who managed the new schools in Harlem, expressing particular concerns about their apparent indifference to broad social and cultural curricula and their influence on students in Harlem: “Educators are not supposed to make students feel as though historically their people don’t function on the level as another group of people within the same nation. We shouldn’t make some groups feel inferior . . . but kids in Harlem are in just that sort of predicament.”95

In the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century, changes in credentialing and hiring requirements, the steady closure of district schools, the spread of market-driven charters managed by private groups, and the visions of education espoused by many of those charters fundamentally influenced who taught in Harlem. Taken together, these reforms affected teachers differently, depending on teachers’ preparation pathway, philosophies of teaching, and beliefs about the educational needs of Black and Latinx children and children in Harlem, as well as the blunt force of powerful groups with unprecedented autonomy to shape teachers’ classroom practices and hire or fire teachers accordingly. Ultimately, compared to earlier trends, education reforms in the twenty-first century adversely affected the recruitment and retention of Black teachers in Harlem, and white teachers rebounded in number and proportion in the same period. In particular, the expansion of CMO charter schools with hierarchical working conditions, weak labor protections, alternative teacher preparation programs that rely on out-of-state hires, and an indifference to culturally inclusive curricula all presented clear challenges for Black teachers, many of whom may have nurtured more locally rooted, historically informed visions of education in Harlem. Though community-based visions emerged in some early charters in Harlem, these visions (and the teachers who enlisted to carry out these plans) were peripheral by 2015, as entrepreneurs, managerial elites, and philanthropists took charge of Harlem’s new educational landscape and its new pool of teachers.

The changing racial and ethnic profile of teachers in Harlem between the late 1960s and 2015 was indelibly shaped by race, policy, and larger social forces, but also by competing ideals of teacher quality and educational opportunity and, finally, by Black teachers’ own commitments, philosophies of education and educational equity, and social networks. Harlem’s social location as a community historically segregated and circumscribed by inequities in resources, yet also emboldened by struggles for political power and cultural representation, gave rise to both opportunities and constraints. Over time, the teaching force in Harlem has reflected an unequal distribution of teachers with formal qualifications. Yet the Harlem teaching force has also included a self-conscious cadre of teachers with social justice commitments and alternative visions for a culturally inclusive learning environment; and it has encompassed a critical mass of community members called to participate through their local social networks.

From the postwar period through the twentieth century, white teachers balked at Harlem teaching assignments, and racism still narrowed the pathways to teacher preparation and certification for Black teachers. The result was a near-chronic teacher shortage. Consequently, as early as the mid-1950s, “a greater proportion of substitutes” was hired in Harlem than in “the more favored parts of the city.”96 The 1955 report, The Status of the Public School Education of Negro and Puerto Rican Children in the City, gave language and salience to this discrepancy, and helped to introduce “teacher quality” as a form of inequity between Black and white schools.97 The call for better teachers in Harlem between the 1940s and early 1960s generally associated “quality” with training, licensing, experience, or “special qualifications.”98 The later 1960s and 1970s, however, saw increasing demands for a different form of quality, in the form of Black and Latinx teachers who could provide role models for children of color.99: Layoffs of the 1970s complicated these demands, delivering a far more senior teaching force in Harlem, but at the expense of less experienced teachers of color who lost their jobs. By the early 1990s, with little appreciable improvement in District 5’s performance, critics suggested that hiring minority teachers was not a panacea and that “quality” was more elusive than the experience, academic credentials, and licensing privileged by the New York City Board of Education, on the one hand, or simplistic race matching, on the other.100 Quality might include a “talent for identifying with Black children,” or a sensitivity to the “language and values of Black children” and, as former Brooklyn superintendent Jerome Harris asserted, this quality may “come in all colors.”101

The lack of consensus around what criteria define teacher quality continues to devil the education profession. Meanwhile, Harlem has become a poster child for new conceptualizations of teacher and educational quality. Our data show that the introduction of new players and variables beginning in the twenty-first century essentially altered who teaches in Harlem. But these innovations—the stricter credentialing requirements, alternate routes to teaching, new models of school governance, and different working conditions inside schools as well as curricular and pedagogical priorities tied to accountability and market-based competition charter schools—served to restructure definitions of teacher quality as well. Indeed, alternate routes and charter schools have contributed to new forms of credentialism: today, for example, many charter schools in Harlem recruit teachers who may not have fulfilled formal teacher preparation requirements, but who do well on the standardized competency tests and are oriented toward raising student achievement (as measured by standardized tests). Yet such recruits are usually short-lived—they leave teaching after only a few years—and are expensive to the district in terms of churn. Moreover, most of these teachers are not only outsiders to the community and its culture, they are also novices, and thus re-create the persistent problem of concentrated inexperienced teachers in District 5.

Demographic changes among those who taught in Central Harlem, along with debates about teacher quality, played out against the tumultuous backdrop of the community control movement, decentralization, and mayoral control. They occurred in tandem with the city’s struggle over time to adjust its teacher assignment policies to comply with federal mandates from the Office of Civil Rights, to fulfill local community desires for more teachers of color, and to meet increased state requirements in the twenty-first century. And they have run alongside the introduction of new forms of schooling and means of procuring teachers, which have taken hold most firmly as ways of educating poor children of color. Yet despite all the change and innovation, one outcome that has remained elusive through these years is the development of a stable, diverse, cadre of teachers who are well-prepared to teach District 5 students.

Previous: Chapter 12 Next: Conclusion

  1. According to one report, “The collection of racial/ethnic data on the school population of New York State was initiated in 1961 with a census of public elementary schools. Since 1966 such information has been collected annually from all public elementary and secondary schools and is now a part of the Department’s Basic Educational Data System. The information is used within the Education Department to provide a longitudinal record of school integration throughout the state. See University of the State of New York (hereafter USNY), Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1972–1973 (Albany: State Education Department Information Center on Education, 1973). These reports furnished data for the years from 1972 to 2000 featured in this chapter. Information regarding the racial and ethnic profile of teachers in Harlem between 2000 and 2015 comes from New York City Independent Budget Office (hereafter NYCIBO) Public School Teacher Data, which was provided by Ray Domanico, the director at the time, upon request, September 22, 2016. ↩︎

  2. The earliest report we located that broke out racial/ethnic profile data by Community School Districts in New York City refers to the 1972–73 school year. We could not locate a complete version of the 1971–72 document; and the 1970–71 report provided only aggregated racial/ethnic profile data for all of New York City. ↩︎

  3. An unpopular legislative compromise between community control advocates and forces of centralization, the law established thirty-two community school districts in New York City, each with its own elected school board, though the central Board of Education maintained important authority, including the hiring of teachers. See Heather Lewis, New York City Public Schools from Brownsville to Bloomberg: Community Control and Its Legacy (New York: Teachers College Press, 2013). ↩︎

  4. W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 [1903]). ↩︎

  5. Michael Fultz, “African American Teachers in the South, 1890–1940: Powerlessness and the Ironies of Expectations and Protests,” History of Education Quarterly 35 (1995): 401–22; Ronald Butchart, Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861–1876 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); and Sonya Ramsey, Reading, Writing, and Segregation: A Century of Black Women Teachers in Nashville (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008). ↩︎

  6. Michele Foster, Black Teachers on Teaching (New York: New Press, 1997); Vanessa Siddle Walker, Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Michael Fultz, “Teacher Training and African American Education in the South,” Journal of Negro Education 64 (1995): 196–210; David Cecelski, Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina and the Fate of Black Schools in the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994); Adam Fairclough, A Class of Their Own: Black Teachers in the Segregated South (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007); Linda Perkins, “The History of Blacks in Teaching: Growth and Decline Within the Profession,” in American Teachers: Histories of a Profession at Work, ed. Donald Warren (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 344–69; and Davidson Douglas, Jim Crow Moves North: The Battle Over Northern School Segregation, 1865–1954 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005). ↩︎

  7. Stephanie Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Women Workers During the Jim Crow Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Ramsey, Reading, Writing, and Segregation↩︎

  8. Melanie Acosta, Michele Foster, and Diedre Houchen, “‘Why Seek the Living Among the Dead?’ African American Pedagogical Excellence: Exemplar Practice for Teacher Education,” Journal of Teacher Education (March 2018), accessed March 20, 2018. ↩︎

  9. Foster, “Constancy, Connectedness, and Constraints,” 1991; Vanessa Siddle Walker, “Valued Segregated Schools for African American Children in the South, 1963–1969: A Review of Common Themes and Characteristics,” Review of Educational Research 70 (2000): 253–70; and Fairclough, Class of Their Own. See also Shaw, What a Woman Ought to Be, 218. ↩︎

  10. Judith Kafka, “In Search of a Grand Narrative: The Turbulent History of Teaching,” in Handbook of Research on Teaching, eds. Drew Gitomer and Courtney Bell (Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association, 2016), 85. ↩︎

  11. Generally, the proportion of Black teachers in urban centers was and is higher than the proportion of Black teachers nationally. Christina Collins, “Ethnically Qualified”: Race, Merit, and the Selection of Urban Teachers, 1920–1980 (New York: Teachers College Press, 2011), 7. ↩︎

  12. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 4, 7. ↩︎

  13. New York’s increase was contrary to national trends, but in line with what was happening in other urban areas. USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution, 1972–73, 73; USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1999–2000 (Albany: Office of Information, Reporting and Technology Services, 2001), 70; and Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 178. ↩︎

  14. See, for example, Lewis, New York City Public Schools, 104, 106; and Dionne Danns, Something Better for Our Children: Black Organization in the Chicago Public Schools, 1963–1971 (New York: Routledge, 2002). It is also worth noting that these schools were not segregated by law, but by generations of public policy choices that had the same effect. Regarding multiple perspectives of Black teachers, see Daniel Perlstein, Justice, Justice: School Politics and the Eclipse of Liberalism (New York: Peter Lang, 2004); for the emergence of class divisions, see Kafka, “In Search of a Grand Narrative”; Foster, Black Teachers; and Jean Anyon, Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform (New York: Teachers College Press, 1997). ↩︎

  15. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, “An Analysis of the Problem of Disappearing Black Educators,” Elementary School Journal 88 (May 1988): 504; D. Coursen, Women and Minorities in Administration (Arlington, VA: National Association of Elementary School Principals, 1975); and Foster, Black Teachers↩︎

  16. Linda C. Tillman, “Unintended Consequences? The Impact of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision on the Employment Status of Black Educators,” Education and Urban Society 36 (May 2004): 282; and Foster, Black Teachers↩︎

  17. Tillman, “Unintended Consequences?,” 286; M. J. Hudson and B. J. Holmes, “Missing Teachers, Impaired Communities: The Unanticipated Consequences of Brown v. Board of Education on the African American Teaching Force at the Precollegiate Level,” Journal of Negro Education 63 (1994): 388-93; and Jack Dougherty, “‘That’s When We Were Marching for Jobs’: Black Teachers and the Early Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee,” History of Education Quarterly 38 (Summer 1998): 121–41. ↩︎

  18. Samuel B. Ethridge, “Impact of the 1954 Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Decision on Black Educators,” Negro Educational Review 30 (October 1979): 217–32; National Education Association, Status of the American Public School Teacher, 1985–86 (Washington, D.C.: Author, 1987); and Sabrina Hope King, “The Limited Presence of African-American Teachers,” Review of Educational Research 63 (Summer 1993): 124–25. ↩︎

  19. Richard M. Ingersoll, Elizabeth Merrill, Daniel Stuckey, and Gregory Collins, “Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force—Updated October 2018,” CPRE Research Reports, accessed January 30, 2019. The trend for Black teacher representation differs from that of minority teachers (Black, Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander, American Indian, and multiracial), which grew from 12 percent in 1987 to 17 percent of the teaching force in 2012. See Albert Shanker Institute, The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education (Washington, D.C.: Author, 2015), 2. ↩︎

  20. These numbers refer to elementary and middle school teachers: not only did District 5 have no high schools, high schools in New York City belonged to a separate district altogether. ↩︎

  21. The state-defined categories for teachers’ racial/ethnic identities are problematic in terms of how those identities were defined and how the definitions changed over the years. Available reports from the early 1970s included categories of Black; Spanish surnamed American; American Indian and Oriental; and Other. (Other in this case was meant to include the default of white.) By the 1976–1977 report and going forward, these categories had changed to Black (not Hispanic origin); Hispanic; American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander; and White (not Hispanic origin), which quite likely would have resulted in categorization of some individuals that differed from where they would have been slotted in earlier reports. ↩︎

  22. Gary Orfield, quoted in Susanna W. Pflaum and Theodore Abramson, “Teacher Assignment, Hiring and Preparation: Minority Teachers in New York City,” Urban Review 22 (March 1990): 19. See Gary Orfield (with F. Monfort and R. George), School Segregation in the 1980s: Trends in the States and Metropolitan Areas (Chicago: National School Desegregation Project, 1987); and John Kucsera with Gary Orfield, New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future (Los Angeles: The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, 2014). ↩︎

  23. Tillman, “(Un)intended Consequences?”; Erica Frankenberg, “The Segregation of American Teachers,” Education Policy Analysis Archives 17 (January 2008), accessed September 13, 2017. ↩︎

  24. Pflaum and Abramson, “Teacher Assignment,” 21. ↩︎

  25. U.S. Census Bureau, Race (SE:T12), 1970. Prepared by Social Explorer, accessed September 26, 2017. ↩︎

  26. Steven Manson, Jonathan Schroeder, David Van Riper, and Steven Ruggles, IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 12.0 [Database] (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2017). Prepared by John Fleming, August 4, 2017. ↩︎

  27. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 106–7. ↩︎

  28. See Lewis, New York City Public Schools, 19. ↩︎

  29. Lewis, New York City Public Schools, 57–59. Before decentralization, the UFT sought to consolidate its power by resisting central board authority over teachers’ work; however, after 1969, the UFT preferred to situate control over key functions such as hiring within the central board. Albert Shanker, the UFT president, argued for this configuration to protect against the influence of patronage or racial, ethnic, or religious bias on hiring, and to ensure an “‘equitable distribution of teachers’” among city schools; not incidentally, this arrangement also helped to preserve union power to bargain with a single entity rather than the local districts. The Community School Boards did gain one measure of flexibility through the law: they were permitted to hire candidates who passed the National Teacher Exam rather than the city’s exams to teach in low-performing elementary and middle schools. See Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 121. ↩︎

  30. See Michael Rebell and A. R. Block, Equity and Education: Federal Civil Rights Enforcement in the New York City School System (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985). ↩︎

  31. Jonna Perrillo, Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 160. ↩︎

  32. Perrillo, Uncivil Rights, 162. ↩︎

  33. Pflaum and Abramson, “Teacher Assignment,” 29. ↩︎

  34. This tension is documented in research that promotes the importance of Black teachers for Black students as well as literature that advocates fairer distribution of teachers of color . See J. A. Grissom and C. Redding, “Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs,” AERA Open 2 (2016): 1–25; C. A. Lindsay and C. M. D. Hart, “Teacher Race and School Discipline: Are Students Suspended Less Often When They Have a Teacher of the Same Race?” Education Next 17 (2017): 1–6; as well as, for instance, Rebell and Block, Equity and Education, 1985. ↩︎

  35. Donna Tapper, Swimming Upstream: The First-Year Experiences of Teachers Working in New York City Public Schools (New York: Educational Priorities Panel, 1995), 1. The author argues that neither of those functions—getting teachers into hard-to-staff schools and ensuring teacher diversity—was served by the centralized system. ↩︎

  36. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 121. ↩︎

  37. Tapper, Swimming Upstream, 1. ↩︎

  38. Tapper, Swimming Upstream, 1. ↩︎

  39. Interview with Eulene Iniss, conducted by Terrenda White, March 20, 2015. ↩︎

  40. Barbara Wilson-Brooks, “Barbara Wilson-Brooks Oral History,” conducted within the Harlem Education History Project↩︎

  41. Louise Burwell, “Louise Burwell Oral History,” conducted within the Harlem Education History Project↩︎

  42. Burwell, “Louise Burwell Oral History.” ↩︎

  43. Pflaum and Abramson, “Teacher Assignment,” 26. ↩︎

  44. Donald Boyd, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, Jonah Rockoff, and James Wyckoff, “The Narrowing Gap in New York City Teacher Qualifications and Its Implications for Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 27 (2008): 793. ↩︎

  45. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 135. ↩︎

  46. Leonard Buder, “Schools See Hope for District Five,” New York Times, December 26, 1974. ↩︎

  47. Lewis, New York City Public Schools, 74. ↩︎

  48. USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1976–1977 (Albany: State Education Department Information Center on Education, 1977); USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1978–1979 (Albany: State Education Department Information Center on Education, 1979); USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1979–1980 (Albany: State Education Department Information Center on Education, 1980); and USNY, Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students and Staff, 1980–1981 (Albany: State Education Department Information Center on Education, 1981). ↩︎

  49. “School War Holdout,” New York Times editorial, November 21, 1978. ↩︎

  50. Leonard Buder, “4 Teachers Return to Jobs Despite Parents’ Protests,” New York Times, October 18, 1974. ↩︎

  51. Leonard Buder, “Parent Protest in Harlem Keeps 1,000 Out of School,” New York Times, October 19, 1974. ↩︎

  52. Lena Williams, “Harlem School Boycott Threatened,” New York Times, October 13, 1976. ↩︎

  53. Joyce Purnick, “City’s Poor Districts Are Hit Hard by a Severe Shortage of Teachers,” New York Times, February 29, 1984. ↩︎

  54. NYCIBO, Office Public School Teacher Data, provided by Ray Domanico upon request, September 22, 2016. ↩︎

  55. NYCIBO, School Indicators for New York City Charter Schools, 2013–14 School Year, New York, July 2015, 6, accessed June 12, 2019. ↩︎

  56. NYCIBO, Office Public School Teacher Data, provided by Ray Domanico upon request, September 22, 2016. ↩︎

  57. NYCIBO, “Demographics and Work Experience: A Statistical Portrait of New York City’s Public School Teachers,” Schools Brief (May 2014): 3–4. ↩︎

  58. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity, 2. These data refer to the combined sectors of charter and district school teachers. ↩︎

  59. Nicholas Michelli, “The Politics of Teacher Education: Lessons from New York City,” Journal of Teacher Education 56 (May/June 2005): 236. ↩︎

  60. Michelli, “Politics of Teacher Education,” 237. ↩︎

  61. New York State Department of Education, “Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) Personnel Master File (PMF) Statistical Runs,” generated by Lauren Fellers, using PMF Standard Statistical Runs, 2001–2016, accessed January 24, 2017. ↩︎

  62. Boyd et al., “Narrowing Gap,” 815. ↩︎

  63. Teach For America (started in 1989) and the New York City Teaching Fellows (started in 2000) are alternate route programs that sought to place graduates of elite institutions of higher education (Teach For America) or professionals from other fields (New York City Teaching Fellows) into classrooms quickly, circumventing the traditional certification process. ↩︎

  64. NYCIBO, Public School Teacher Data, provided by Ray Domanico upon request, September 22, 2016. ↩︎

  65. National Center for Education Statistics, Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States: Results From the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey, 2013, accessed June 12, 2019. ↩︎

  66. Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Charter School Growth and Replication, 2013, accessed September 16, 2014; E. Frankenberg, G. Siegel-Hawley, and J. Wang, Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards (Los Angeles: Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, 2010). ↩︎

  67. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity↩︎

  68. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity↩︎

  69. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 179. ↩︎

  70. Freeman A. Hrabowski III and Mavis G. Sanders, “Increasing Racial Diversity in the Teacher Workforce: One University’s Approach,” Thought and Action (Winter 2015): 101–16. ↩︎

  71. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 178. See also David E. Lavin and David Hyllegard, Changing the Odds: Open Admissions and the Life Chances of the Disadvantaged (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996); and Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). ↩︎

  72. Richard Ingersoll and H. May, “Recruitment, Retention and the Minority Teacher Shortage,” Consortium for Policy Research in Education, CPRE Research Report #RR-69, 2011; Desiree Carver-Thomas and Linda Darling-Hammond, Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It (Palo Alto, Calif.: Learning Policy Institute, 2017), 20–23; and Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity↩︎

  73. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity, 2. ↩︎

  74. Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, “Recruitment,” 23. ↩︎

  75. NYCIBO, Public School Teacher Data, provided by Ray Domanico upon request, September 22, 2016. ↩︎

  76. Of the forty-five charter schools in Manhattan in 2013–14, thirty were located in the Harlem neighborhood (including CSDs 3, 4, and 5). NYCIBO, School Indicators, 38 ↩︎

  77. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity↩︎

  78. Terrenda Corisa White, “Culture, Power, and Pedagogy in Market-Driven Times: Embedded Case Studies of Teaching in Four Charter Schools in Harlem, NY.” (PhD Diss., Columbia University, 2014). ↩︎

  79. These teachers’ names as well as those of all subsequent teachers who describe their experiences in Harlem’s charter sector are pseudonyms. ↩︎

  80. Interview with Marvin Humphrey, conducted by Terrenda White, January 9, 2013. ↩︎

  81. New York City Charter School Center, Charter School Facts 2012–13, New York Department of Education, 2012, accessed February 28, 2019. ↩︎

  82. NYC Charter School Center, The State of the Charter Sector (New York: NYC Department of Education, 2012), accessed February 28, 2019. ↩︎

  83. NYCIBO, School Indicators, 38. ↩︎

  84. Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Charter School Growth and Replication (Stanford, Calif.: CREDO, 2013), accessed September 16, 2014. ↩︎

  85. Albert Shanker Institute, State of Teacher Diversity, 19. ↩︎

  86. J. Golann, “The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School,” Sociology of Education 88 (2015): 103–19; M. Q. McShane and J. Hatfield, “Measuring Diversity in Charter School Offerings,” July 2015, American Enterprise Institute, accessed July 28, 2015. ↩︎

  87. Interview with Shawn Lewis, conducted by Terrenda White, July 26 2013. ↩︎

  88. Interview with Shawn Lewis. ↩︎

  89. New York State Education Department, New York School Report Card, 2015-16, Success Academy Charter School Harlem 2, accessed June 12, 2019; Success Academy Charter School Harlem 4, accessed June 12, 2019; Success Academy Charter School Harlem 5, accessed June 12, 2019. ↩︎

  90. Interview with Theresa Sanders, conducted by Terrenda White, July 26, 2013. ↩︎

  91. For example, based on the data about KIPP charter schools and their revenue, we estimate that per pupil expenditure in Harlem’s CMO schools was nearly $23,000, about 30 percent more than district per pupil funding in 2013. ↩︎

  92. Interview with Shawn Lewis. ↩︎

  93. Interview with Anthony Charles, conducted by Terrenda White, January 10, 2013. ↩︎

  94. Interview with Anthony Charles. ↩︎

  95. Interview with Anthony Charles. ↩︎

  96. Benjamin Fine, “New Policy Asked on Teacher Posts,” New York Times, December 6, 1956. ↩︎

  97. Public Education Association, The Status of the Public School Education of Negro and Puerto Rican Children in the City (New York: Public Education Association of New York City, October 1955); and Perillo, Uncivil Rights, 86. ↩︎

  98. Kenneth Clark, Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 138. ↩︎

  99. Collins, “Ethnically Qualified,” 98, 124; and Resolution by District 5, n.d. after June 1968, United Federation of Teachers–Subject, box 17, F476, cited in Collins, 124. ↩︎

  100. Joseph Berger, “Pessimism in Air as Schools Try Affirmative Action,” New York Times, February 27, 1990; and Joseph Berger, “McCall Will Push for More Minority Teachers,” New York Times, June 28, 1991. ↩︎

  101. Berger, “Pessimism in Air.” ↩︎