Our executive Director LaShawn Routé Chatmon was interviewed for a national news story, “Educators Alarmed: Minority Teenagers Performing At Academic Levels of 30 Years Ago,” by Teresa Wiltz for America’s Wire. The article explores the fact that “while achievement levels have improved considerably for minority elementary and middle school students, educators say their academic performance drops during high school years.”
LaShawn was cited on the issue of teacher quality.
“Some of the least experienced teachers are put in classrooms with our most needy kids,” says LaShawn Routé Chatmon, executive director of the National Equity Project based in Oakland. “This doesn’t mean that new teachers can’t serve needy students. But there is a trend of large numbers of teachers who aren’t fully prepared.”
The result? According to Chatmon, inexperienced teachers inadvertently perpetuate the achievement gap. Students performing below their grade must be taught at an accelerated level, she says. Teachers must be “warm demanders,” showing students respect, encouraging them to be partners in their learning and communicating clearly that they are expected to master the subject matter, Chatmon says.
LaShawn was also quoted regarding issues of unconscious bias.
Teachers may think that students from poor families are so traumatized that they can’t learn, experts say, and so they don’t push those children to excel. Chatmon says that as African-American boys grow physically, teachers often talk about being afraid of “their size” and tend to overpunish them. As a result, a disproportionate number of black male students are suspended and miss class instruction, making it that much harder for them to catch up.
We are glad to see this work by America’s Wire, an independent, non-profit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
The article was also picked up by The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/black-latino-students-per_n_1224790.html.
To follow more National Equity Project news coverage visit http://nationalequityproject.org/news.