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1 Christopher Ng November 29, 2010 Master of Teaching Program Prof.

Darren Lund Professional Seminar Independent Inquiry Rainbow (B)right! Teacher Diversity in Canadian and American Schools The issue of ethnic diversity in the school and the classroom is a broad ranging topic that has generated numerous points of discussion among those with an interest in education. The debate in question often centers on the subject of student diversity in the grade school classroom, in addition to a teachers ability to acknowledge and incorporate these differences. Lost in all of the kafuffle and controversy, howeverand often overlooked when discussing the issue of ethnic diversity in the schoolsis the issue of teacher diversity. In North America, the most predominant racial group in the teaching faculty is overwhelmingly White. And while other racialized groups are also represented to varying degrees, the overall ratio of White teachers compared to these other non-White teachers is highly disproportional. As the overall design of this paper is supposed to reflect a purposeful Independent Inquiry, I will be asking questions regarding the discrepancy between the number of White and racialized teachers in the classroom, such as, "Why is this so?" "Is it an issue going forward?" "Why or why not?" Within the ensuing discussion on the following pages, I will be examining points such as the realities of teacher diversity, how the issue is relevant to me as an aspiring teacher, some of the challenges racialized teachers encounter, in addition to the positive influences of a more diverse teaching population. However, it is also important to keep in mind throughout this discussion that the statistical evidence provided here is by no means complete, and much of the anecdotal evidence gathered in the following pages is representative of only a small sample size of the racialized teachers in the North American labor force. While these factors do not completely undermine the validity of the above inquiry, it is important to keep this in mind throughout the ensuing discussion.

2 What exactly IS the issue? Or is it even an issue at all? The importance of teacher diversity In Canada, a nation in which we Canadians pride ourselves on being both open-minded and (perhaps more importantly) a multicultural society, the ethnic diversity of the schoolteacher population compared to both the student and general populations are surprisingly unequal. In the following section, I will be providing some facts and statistics regarding the above phenomenon. One of the most concerning issues regarding the lack of teacher diversity in the schools is of course the disproportion between the number of racialized students in the classroom and the number of racialized teachers in the schools. Ideally, the representation between these two groups should be more or less equal. If, for example, the makeup of the average school classroom were composed of approximately 25% racialized students, then the percentage of racialized teachers in the schools should reflect a similar number. However, this is not the case. In Teacher Diversity in Canada: Leaky Pipelines, Bottlenecks, and Glass Ceilings, Ryan et al. (2009) found in a 2006 census provided by Statistics Canada that the total percentage of primary and secondary school racialized teachers comprising the entire Canadian teacher labor force was estimated to be approximately 6.9%. Comparing the above number to an overall racialized population in Canada of approximately 16.2% during that same year may not seem all that significant, butall things being equalthese two numbers should be much closer together. Is that a concern? In Canada, the majority of (younger) Canadians have grown up with the premise that Canada is a multicultural society, and that a certain amount of ethnic diversity in the general population is perfectly normal. Many businesses also claim to be "equal opportunity employers" that place the emphasis on a potential employee's qualifications rather than their gender, appearance, or last name. Although I believe the overall process to be a work in progress (and there is a great deal that still has to be done) development is being done in regard to a more proportional representation of racialized groups in the labor force. Ryan et al. (2009) provide the example of Barak Obama, the president of the United States [who] speaks eloquently to the importance of having people of colour in positions of influence (p. 593). The issue, therefore, is not only the desire of a more ethnically diverse labor force, but also of a greater ethnic diversity in certain limelight careers, such as education. Unfortunately, however, these steps have not yet fully reached the teacher population in the education system. Students need to be given the opportunity to see ethnic diversity at work in a place where they spend the majority of their

3 young lives. Diversity among their classmates and peers may be important to their overall growth, but ethnic diversity among the adults they interact with on a near-daily basis is equally as important. In a newspaper article entitled A Question of Quality: Minority teachers are a missing ingredient, Terry Jackson, an African-American middle-school teacher in the United States, says that students in his district "need to see black role models. They need to see some black professionalsThey need to get rid of stereotypes of minorities as being in gangs or mainly playing sports. Some kids asked me once, 'Can you dunk, Mr. Jackson?' I told I told them, 'No, all I can do is dunk doughnuts.' I want to break some of the stereotypes" (Lee 2003). For both White and racialized students, it is important for them to be raised in an environment where they are exposed to the ethnic diversity of the country in a meaningful manner. Perhaps even more importantly, such exposure gives them a better sense of the ethnically diverse representation in the rest of the world, rather than one where the majority of positions of power and influence are occupied by Whites (who are also often male, but that is another issue entirely). Teacher diversityhow is this relevant to me as an aspiring teacher? As a Canadian-born national belonging to a racialized group (as well as an aspiring teacher) the issue of teacher diversity in the Canadian school systems is extremely relevant to my present and future circumstances. In the following section, I will be addressing the above question, specifically regarding how I ended up wanting to become a teacher, my own reservations and concerns about the profession, and how my belonging to a racialized group may affect my upcoming job/career prospects in the teaching profession. As a grade school student, I do not recall ever wanting to become a teacher, nor did I ever seriously envision myself eventually becoming one. It was not until I started university that a classmate recommended me for a part-time job as a music teacher at her piano studio. Naturally I took the job, and quickly discovered that I actually enjoyed the experience of teaching. In fact, I found myself enjoying the experience so much, that I eventually changed my major to English with the intention of later pursuing an Education degree. I did, however, have certain apprehensions about entering the teaching profession. The (comparatively low) pay was of course one such issue, as was the fact I do not consider myself a "people person" in the conventional sense. More importantly, though, was the area of study I

4 chose major in (and to specialize in upon entering the Master of Teaching program at the University of Calgary), namelyEnglish. For any aspiring White teacher, this would likely not even be an issue. If I had chosen a different subject of specialization in the Master of Teaching Program, or even the primary school route rather than secondary, this would probably not be as much of an issue. Of course, things being the way they are, the core subject of English Language Arts in secondary school is primarily dominated by White teachers. However, my university background is heavily Humanities/Social Sciences based, which would make me a more ideal candidate for teaching English Language Arts and/or Social Studies. Of the core subjects in secondary school, English Language Arts and Social Studies were my strongest subjects. I did all right in Biology and Chemistry (I never took Physics), but Math was my worst subject. That goes against the "stereotypical" model of Asians commonly being associated with and excelling at (in addition to potentially teaching) Math and Science. How would this affect my job/career prospects as a teacher? Would finding employment as an Asian English/Social Studies teacher be an issue? Although Canada attempts to cultivate its image as a "multicultural society" where the issues of ethnic identity shouldn't matter (or at least shouldn't matter as much here as it does elsewhere) the issue is still of a concern. When I was living/studying in Shanghai, China back in 2009, I had an extremely difficult time finding work as an English teacher. Normally, that shouldnt be an issue, as I was born in a native English speaking country (Canada), am an English native speaker, and have no discernable accent (unless it's a Canadian one). My main obstacle, however, was that I "look" (and am) Asian. In Teaching English in China for NonWhite, Non-Native Speakers, writer Gregory Mavrides states that China does not adhere to non-discriminatory hiring practices: height, age, attractiveness, overall appearance, and especially skin tone are typically and explicitly considered for any job that requires working with the public (and this applies just as much to the Chinese as it does to foreigners, maybe more so). This should be clear to anyone who has been asked to send a photo of themselves along with their rsum, a practice that is entirely illegal in just about all of our respective Western countries. The photo is obviously being required in order to determine if the prospective teacher looks the part (Mavrides 2010).

5 For the majority of the English language schools in China (even in Shanghai, which is supposedly the most ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan city in mainland China) they are always looking for native English speakers who "look" foreign. Or, to put it differentlythese schools are looking specifically for native English speaking Whites. Curiously enough, even non-native English speaking Whites (primarily Eastern Europeans) have better job prospects than any native English speaking Asian, due to their appearance, and the fact that they at least "look" White. In essence, one of my primary concerns in trying to find employment in North America as an English teacher is reflective of the similar difficulties I had finding work as an English teacher in China; Namely, I don't fit the "stereotypical" description of a White English teacher. What are some of the past and present challenges that racialized teachers encounter? Although almost all schoolteachers face various forms of adversity in the teaching profession, racialized teachers are presented with a different set of challenges compared to their White counterparts. In the following section, I will be outlining some of the more frequent problems racialized teachers have encountered during their teaching careers. First and foremost among these difficulties faced by racialized teachers is the issue of racial stereotyping, and in particular, teachers being restricted to teach certain subjects based on their ethnicity. Racial stereotyping in this context is a form of generalization in which a (oftentimes misconceived) statement, perception, or characteristic is applied to an entire ethnic group. One of the more common examples of such (and one I am familiar with on a more personal level) are Asian students who are expected to excel in the core subjects of Math and Science instead of Language Arts or Social Sciences. There is a certain expectationor perhaps a perceptionthat Asians (and in particular, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean students) are inherently good at math and science, and that while their language and artistic abilities may range anywhere from below to above average, these abilities are supposedly inferior to their logical prowess. Chinese-American Author Amy Tan discusses this very issue in her essay, Mother Tongue, where she describes her experiences as a student in school: While my English skills were never judged as poor, compared to math, English could not be considered my strong suit. In grade school I did moderately wellin English But those scores were not good enough to override the opinion that my true abilities lay

6 in math and science, because in those areas I achieved As and scored in the ninetieth percentile (Tan, 2001, p. 592). Although Tans essay provides an example of an Asian student encountering this problem, Asian teachers are not exempt from this form of stereotyping. In fact, the majority of these teachers can also often find themselves teaching the core subjects of Math and Sciencesometimes by choice, sometimes not. A second factor to consider in the possible difficulties encountered by racialized teachers is the issue of social pressures: Racialized teachers who feel they must constantly excel in order to gain the approval/recognition of their peers and superiors, appear competent in their field of expertise, and endure extra scrutiny because of their ethnic background. The above is a variation of the fishbowl syndrome, wherein a racialized teacher's actions and behavior are constantly under a magnifying glass (regardless of whether it is real, or perceived, or both) due to how they differ (physically and/or culturally) from their predominantly White colleagues. On the one hand, this spotlighting can be positive if the teacher is exceptionally talented (knowledgeable, charismatic, works well with students, etc.), but it can also become problematic if the teacher is error prone (displays a lack of knowledge, problems communicating with students, etc.) or causes controversy with the school staff, parents, or students. In Race and the Identity of the Nonnative ESL Teacher, Nuzhat Amin references this very phenomenon when mentioning that most minority teachers, especially those who are new to the profession, have to invest a great deal of energy in establishing themselves as authentic teachers in the eyes of both their students and their colleagues (Amin, 1997, p. 580). In such cases, the issue of the teachers ethnic background is always under scrutiny, and the teacher's competency may come into question in an exaggerated manner when compared to a White teacher under similar circumstances. Of course, any racialized teacher attempting to work under such conditions is also in danger of suffering from accelerated burnout (a common ailment in the teaching profession that can affect any teacher), and may suffer emotionally, psychologically, even physically as a result. In Inside and outside, Nina Basica claims that this can arise as a result of racialized teachers working at crosspurposes with school administrators and fellow colleagues. In addition, the psychic and physical demands placed upon them would restrict their tenure not only as teachers, but also put into question their identity as legitimate Canadians (Basica 1996). Another factor that may contribute to the issue of burnout is the pigeonholing of racialized teachers into roles of advocacy on

7 behalf of their schools. Although some racialized teachers willingly embrace the role as a supporter for racialized students, others are not given a choice on the issue. For example, one of Basicas (1996) participant teachers found that her school colleagues expected her to serve as intermediary between the school and the minority students identified as problematic by other teachers or administrators. In addition to the above, there was also an absence of shared responsibility among the teachers and administrators for those same immigrant and minority students. The message essentially was something similar to, Youre a [black] teacher, these are our [black] studentsyou go deal with them on your own. We wont interfere. The most disturbing part of a racialized teacher being forced into a student advocacy role in this manner is that either other teachers are unwilling to assist the racialized teacher with the task, or they genuinely believe that their non-interference would be more beneficial than being actively involved. Either way, added pressure is placed upon the racialized teacher to take action. A third and final point relating to the above argument are the difficulties of career advancement of racialized teachers in the teaching profession. Promotions, of course can be difficult to attain in any profession, not only teaching. And it is not only racialized teachers who struggle with this issue, as White teachers can also encounter similar difficulties. However, the challenges of advancement that racialized teachers face when compared to White teachers are still very different. In Inside and outside, three of Basicas teacher participants expressed that minority teachers find administrative positions difficult to acquire (Basica 1995). Furthermore, one of her teacher participants added that behaviors considered acceptable for white male teachers, such as seeking opportunities for professional development and advancement, were not as acceptable for minority teachersthey dont like an uppity black man telling them what to do (Basica, 1995, p. 158). The above quotation is reminiscent of the glass ceiling effect, in that it appears as though several of Basicas participants are given the pretense of fairness when it comes to equal opportunity employment advancement. These teachers may progress in their careers up to a certain pointand then suddenly find that they can go no further, prevented from doing so by an unseen and arbitrary obstruction that is beyond their control. What are some of the positive effects of a more ethnically diverse teacher population? What are some of the improvements being made going forward?

8 Of course, the status of being a racialized teacher should not be thought of as a handicap. I mentioned in the previous paragraphs some of the negative aspects and challenges that these teachers encounter in their chosen profession, as well as my own apprehensions regarding the potential problems of being an aspiring teacher belonging to a racialized group. However, in this final section, my discussion will revolve around some of the actual and potential benefits of a more diverse teacher population. One of the more often heard arguments put forward by advocates campaigning for a more ethnically diverse teacher population in the schools is that racialized teachers can serve as "role models" for other racialized students. Of course, that would require caring and dedicated racialized teachers who are willing to put themselves in a position to step into the mold of a role model in the first placewhich is not always easy. In Growing up Black, Female, and Working Class: A Teachers Narrative, Annette Henrys teacher respondent, Ese, discusses her thoughts on being a black teacher working in Ontario: Weve been told over the years that black kidss dumb. They cant do this, theres so many studies that show a low IQ. Ibelieve that all black kids can learn,So its my own little crusadeto see to it that all black kids learnThey are capable of itThey need an awful lot of encouragement and push and drive, and give them a goal to work for. And let them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is possible (Henry, 1995, p. 290). In the above passage, Eses teaching philosophy reflects an example of a racialized role model teacher, one who believes in the potential and ability of her students (particularly her racialized students) to excel, especially in an environment where they might not succeed otherwise. The role model of the racialized teacher is also significant from the perspective of the racialized student, who may identify more closely with a racialized teacher rather than a White teacher. In Teacher Diversity in Canada, Ryan et al. (2006) mention that teachers of color not only inspire students, but they can also learn from such role models. As I alluded to in one of the above sections, it is important for young racialized students to see other racialized adults in positions of influence in order for them to see that they have the potential to do wonderful and meaningful things with their lives. Annette Henry in Growing up Black similarly describes role models as people who open up our minds and free us from the conventional, habitual way of looking at things (Henry 1995). The importance of racialized role models in North American society for

9 other racialized groups cannot be emphasized enough, and I find myself gaining a better understanding of that principle as I grow older. To me, for instance, Amy Tan, a ChineseAmerican author (as previously mentioned), would represent one such role model in a position of influence. Although she is not a teacher, Tan describes her fascination with the English language and literature in Mother Tongue, as well as her experiences of being in an academic environment where she studied what she wanted rather than capitulating to the pressure of studying what other people expected her to. The fact that she resisted these pressuresand later went on to become a bestselling English authoris merely one example of a role model, and demonstrates that there are possibilities for members of racialized groups that extend beyond the lingering racial stereotypes still prevalent in North American society. Another important aspect to consider in regard to the benefits of a more diverse teacher population is, of course, an accompanying and more diverse worldview perspective in the classrooms. A mix of White and racialized teachers can act as a more accurate representation of ethnic diversity in the schools to younger generations (especially in a country such as multicultural Canada). Each and every teacherregardless of ethnicitybrings his or her own unique perspective to the classroom in their interactions with their students. However, in the case of most racialized teachers, their experiences growing up typically different from other North American Whites. They may, for example, have an ethnic background with strong cultural or religious ties very different from the North American standard, or have experienced instances of racism or discrimination during the course of their lives. Factors such as these can influence their perspectives on life, on the world, even on their own teaching practices and methods. In Inside and outside, several of Bascias teacher participants: reported a special attentiveness to minority students experiences of difference. They spoke with sadness of incidents in which a colleague or another student said or did something to make a minority student feel different or inferior. They also discussed the importance of providing immigrant and minority students with the skills needed to help them negotiate a challenging social world outside of the school (Basica. 1996, p. 157). In other words, what a racialized teacher is able to provide to racialized students compared to a White teacher is a different sort of connection. It is a sort of mutual understanding as a result of both parties belonging to a racialized group. The teacher and student do not even have to belong to the same racialized group for this to be effective, as long as they are both in what would be

10 labeled as a visible minority group. Based on these similar or shared experiences, the racialized teacher is typically more aware of certain struggles the racialized student may be encountering, and may be better able to relate to and assist the student in a manner that a White teacher may struggle with. Finally, there are certain initiatives presently being taken (or have been taken in the past) to promote a more diverse teacher population in both Canada and the United States. Although there are educators who see the benefit of having a more diverse teacher population in the schools, aspiring racialized teachers occasionally find it either intimidating and/or difficult to enter the profession they have chosen. However, progress is being made in that regard. For example, in the United States, the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), in a 2007 news article from Education Week, reported that the number of board-certified racialized teachers in the United States (composed of African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American racialized groups) increased by approximately 3% from 2005 to 2006 (Keller 2007). Although the increase may not seem all that significant, the fact that the number actually increased is nonetheless good news. However, the influx of new teachers into the teaching ranks was never meant to be a rapid process. To further aid in the overall growth, several previous and ongoing programs have specialized in assisting racialized teachers earn their certification. For example, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) implemented a program called DREAM, (or Direct Recruitment Efforts, to Attract Minorities) back in 2005. The above program helps to subsidize both the assessment and teacher licensing fees in the United States, the latter of which costs upwards of $2,500 (Keller 2007). Canada offered a similar program for internationally educated teachers called Teach in Ontario, a bridging project for teachers that was jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. Although the program was officially terminated in July of 2009, Teach in Ontario aided previously internationally certified teachers during the provincial teacher certification process, as well as assisting them in later finding employment as accredited teachers in the province. Working towards greater teacher diversity The issue of teacher diversity in the schools is an extremely complex and controversial topic, and is not one that can be resolved easily. However, my overall purpose of this

11 Independent Inquiry was not to arrive at some definite conclusion regarding the above questions, but rather to analyze and examine them in greater detail. Finding a set of answers to these questions was not as important as was building better understanding of the subject matter. As the overall racialized population of North America continues to grow, Canadas education system should become more willing to acknowledge and reflect our cultures increasing ethnic diversity in the schools, not only with the students, but also with the teachers. And although there are still many obstacles and challenges that need to be overcome in order for that to occur, the potential benefits of these eventual changes will broaden the perspectives of Canadas youth, and further add legitimacy to our nations multicultural identity.

12 Works Cited

Amin, Nuzhat. (Autumn 1997). Race and the Identity of the Nonnative ESL Teacher. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 580-583. Basica, Nina. (1996). Inside and outside: minority immigrant teachers in Canadian schools. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 9(2), 151-165. Henry, Annette. (September 1995). Growiing up Black, Female, and Working Class: A Teacher's Narrative. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 26(3), 279-305. Keller, Bess. (2007, January 31). More Minority Teachers Earn National Certification. Education Week, 26(21). Retrieved from http://www.nbpts.org/index.cfm? t=downloader.cfm&id=689 Lee, Carmen J. (2003, February 05). A Question of Quality: Minority teachers are a missing ingredient. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved from http://www.postgazette.com/localnews/20030205diversityrp2.asp Mavrides, Gregory. (2010, January 27). Teaching English in China for Non-White, Non-Native Speakers. Middle Kingdom Life. Retrieved from http://middlekingdomlife.com/blog/newest-articles/teaching-english-in-china-for-nonwhite-non-native-speakers/ Ryan, J., Pollock, K., & Antonelli, F. (2009). Teacher Diversity in Canada: Leaky Pipelines, Bottlenecks, and Glass Ceilings. Canadian Journal of Education, 32(3), 591-617. Tan, Amy. (2001). Mother Tongue. In J. T. Andrea Lunsford, Everythings an Argument with Readings (pp. 589-594). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's Press.