To be completely transparent, the two gentlemen above are friends and soul brothers I met while speaking on religious pluralism during a campus chapel forum earlier this year; I have stayed in contact with them, but they are not campus colleagues. In an ideal world, schools would plaster such a gathering of folks of color as noted in the picture above. Independent schools face a great challenge in creating a kaleidoscope of teachers. Of course, schools and other organizations must be aggressive in seeking out faculty members of color. Back in 2003 when I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas…I gave a presentation on the natural state of education through the lens of teachers of color. I expanded that presentation into a conference paper that I delivered in 2005 at the College Board’s regional meeting. In that session, I drew data from Pearl Rock Kane and Alfonso J. Orsini’s work, The Colors of Excellence.
In it, the authors stated that those members of color that responded to their survey, 65% were employed at their current school for 5 years or less. The interesting fact, according to this survey, was that 86% intended on remaining in the education profession, but not at their current school. Here are the reasons why:
- a desire to be in a more diverse setting
- feelings of isolation
- to be supported more due to cultural factors
- job advancement
- low salary
As I get ready to engage and participate in a forum regarding faculty members of color, the above matters will be at center. We will also address ways in which folks of color can do a better job educating their community on matters central to us. Diversity is paramount when it comes to education. In truth, I believe that the presence of teachers of color on campus speaks volumes about a school. As noted in my 2003 presentation, getting teachers of color is not easy; it is a very competitive process. And keeping us, those of the elite, is not easy. Not only must schools entice such folks froth other professions, but they must compete against other high profile schools. Diversity is complex. It does not happen in a year, but signs of progress do. This is more than a matter of academics. While working on an ad hoc diversity committee at HCHS, I served with a board member who is also a lawyer. We discussed the efforts his firm takes in recruiting and retaining lawyers of color. This went as far as being active at black colleges, and attending job fairs hosted by the National Black Law School Association (BLSA).