Irreconcilable Differences: Black Teachers’ Lives and K-12 Schools

Abstract

University-based teacher education programs struggle with recruitment and retention of Black teachers. While the enrollment of children of color in K-12 public schools has held steady for over a decade, Black teachers continue to represent only a small percentage of classroom teachers and leave the classroom at higher rates than their White counterparts. In this article, drawing from an in-depth interview sequence (Seidman in Interviewing as qualitative research: a guide for researchers in education and the social sciences, Teachers College Press, New York, 2013), we theorize one Black teacher’s racialized lived experience with colleagues and institutions to explore the factors that contributed to her early exit from the profession. With a Subject-Object Theory analytic framework (Kegan and Lahey, in: Lyons (ed) Handbook of reflection and reflective inquiry: mapping a way of knowing for professional reflective inquiry, Springer, Boston, 2010), our analysis underscores how a series of racially hostile encounters undermined her motivation and ability to enact change at the institutional level. Findings suggest that focusing primarily on consciousness and awareness raising in teacher education programs may fall short for Black educators.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)—an infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision that legitimized the notion of “separate but equal” racially segregated public facilities.

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Correspondence to Tracey A. Benson.

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Benson, T.A., Salas, S. & Siefert, B. Irreconcilable Differences: Black Teachers’ Lives and K-12 Schools. Urban Rev (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-020-00591-x

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Keywords

  • Teacher education
  • Black teachers
  • Teacher retention
  • Teacher attrition
  • Critical praxis