The Color of Teaching: Educational Change and Development

Article excerpt

The Color of Teaching: Educational Chage and Development, by June A. Gordon. London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2000. 109 pp. $85.00, cloth. $27.99, paper.

The Color of Teaching by June A. Gordon deals with the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. She looks at teachers from four different ethnic backgrounds, African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American from three urban school districts. The Color of Teaching demonstrates the author's desire to address this issue head on. The breakdown of this very informative, yet easy to read book is clear-cut. Gordon provides the facts and points out the inequalities.

June Gordon has completed extensive research in the area of cultural diversity, urban education, and factors that hinder the successes of marginalized students within the United States, England, and Japan. She also identifies with this community because she herself comes from a family of immigrants. Gordon's research is extensive in that she looks at the work of some of the gurus in the field of minority education, like John Ogbu, Asa Hillard, Jonathan Kozol, and M. Suarez-Orozco.

Administrators across the nation find it difficult to recruit teachers of color and even harder to retain them. Gordon addresses these issues by conducting interviews with teachers from each of these ethnic groups. The underlying question in the book is: "Why aren't we pushing children of color into the field of education?" Each group has some of the same concerns, but many were different.

Central to the book are the experiences of various groups throughout their respective educational processes. Each ethnic group had distinct perspectives as to why they thought a career in education was not of interest to their children or generations after them. Many agreed that they themselves were guilty of not encouraging students to pursue careers in education. Each culture represented provided very dear, strong, and powerful stories. One of Gordon's most interesting findings was that these ethnic groups found that no matter what the socioeconomic status or the academic standing of the families, communities, or peers, they did not encourage their children to enter the education profession.

In Chapter One Gordon explains her research, the population, and her own ideas regarding the research. Gordon deals with the fact that there is a shortage of teachers and an even more pronounced shortage of teachers of color. Gordon writes that the U.S. Department of Education proposed a need of 2.2 million public school teachers because of an influx of various ethnic groups and continuously growing populations. With this in mind one would think that the need would be greatest in the minority school communities. However, Gordon points out that the need for teachers is more common in White communities.

Chapter Two explains the issues that surround African American teachers from an historical context. Here, examples are used to describe African American teachers of the past as role models. They were viewed by the society within their community as a part of the elite. Desegregation changed the image of African American teachers. After desegregation, African American teachers were no longer respected within their community schools. Instead, they were viewed as inferior and less competent, especially since White parents did not want Black teachers to teach their children. This chapter also addresses African American teachers' perceptions of why students of color resist teaching as a profession. A majority of the teachers in the research believed that low pay, low economic status, unrealistic educational expectations, better opportunities in other fields, coupled with inadequate and negative experiences in the school system, lack of support in college, and racism all negatively influence African American youth with regards to the teaching profession.

Chapter Three discusses the concerns of the Latino American population interviewed in this study. …