Antwan Jefferson, PhD
What’s really interesting to me about this teacher retention issue of the Journal, is that it highlights some of the same kinds of concerns that we’ve been interested in learning about since we started. For instance, when we began in 2018, we were interested in gathering and understanding the types of hopes and dreams that members of our community have for the education of children in our community. And in that issue, we learned that families and other members of the broader community were interested in a wide range of outcomes for their children’s education, including having the opportunity to be educated by a diverse teacher workforce. In the years since, we’ve collectively experienced a global health crisis that closed schools and shrunk the teacher workforce and we’ve seen teachers in Denver organize a strike to demand increased pay. I notice a few common threads through such changes, including that our educator workforce faces a range of challenges, both environmental and economic.
As you will encounter in this issue, educators of color in the Denver region and nationally, experience the range of challenges that I note above, and they experience additional challenges that appear to be directly related to their racial and ethnic identities. It also should be noted here that educators of color remain a worrisomely small percentage of the overall educator workforce. Still.
These complicating factors are the core of this issue focused on educator of color retention in schools in the region.
The interest (and therefore likelihood) of educators to remain in our classrooms with our children is diminished by their experiences in schools: experiencing isolation, being treated as a school’s default disciplinarian, offering unpaid labor to support students, and more.
These are important topics to sort through if we are to support those who educate our children.
So, in taking together the various articles that our chief writer, Allan Tellis has pulled together for this issue, and given the beautiful array of contributing articles offered by researchers, educators, students, what we may recognize is that in order for our children to have the kind of educational experiences that we dream about, then we have work to do. That we, as a community should be busy supporting fair wages campaigns. Championing safe and affirming working environments. Advocating for professional conditions that are safe for the physical, economic and psychological well-being of educators of color. So as you read this issue, consider the question: what is it that I might be doing to champion our children’s educators having access to everything they need to persist and succeed in our schools and classrooms. Maybe in this way, we can have their backs.