I find it interesting that the Huffington Post published this article about teacher diversity as I was mulling over the same topic for a post here.
Packemin's math department is not very diverse. Until this year, it would appear to the outsider that you needed to be Asian and have a young vagina to be hired. (This year's new hiree's don't fall into this category.) There is one African American teacher who Mr. AP proudly shows off as "a good black teacher." (She is, but why does she need this title? Her race is quite obvious.)
Ms. Thompson, also African American taught in the school many years ago. She was absolutely brilliant. She was one of the only teachers with a masters degree in pure mathematics and she was educated in Trinidad. It should be noted here that only the best of the best get to go to college in the British West Indies. Ms. Thompson was also a great teacher. She got great results and the kids loved her. She got along well with everyone in the department. With young children at home, she was happy to be at a neighborhood school.
Things went well until the advanced placement stat teacher left for the greener pastures of a Long Island school. Mr. AP wanted Ms. Thompson to give up the AB calculus class she was teaching and take over statistics. She balked. It would have been a tremendous amount of work and she did not want to give up teaching the subject she loved. Mr. AP found someone else to teach the course but never forgot.
The following year Ms. Thompson got her program, minus the AB class. She was visibly upset. To make matters worse, there were two on my program. (I want to add her that Ms. Thompson is a much better teacher than I am.) I demanded a trade be made and she got one. Things were smoothed for the year. The year after, she again got a program with no calculus and since that term I only had one class, I didn't volunteer to give it away. Ms. Thompson taught the classes she was given, but was hurt and started looking around for a new school. She found one--in a good Long Island district. She had a longer commute and wasn't happy about the distance from her children but the pay was better and so was the treatment. Packemin lost a great teacher, an African American woman who was a role model to everyone.
Mr. AP just e-mailed a slide show to the department (he took me off his e-mail list but many people are still forwarding me his gems) about serenity, and letting go of negativity and hatred. The hypocrisy of it! He is preaching to others what he cannot do himself.
(Pictured above is a tree from the grounds of Vanderbilt Mansion. The trees are old and very spread apart. As the years pass, the branches bend towards the ground and take root. From one tree, many grow and the beauty goes on and on. This is a philosophy that should be adopted by educators--spread beauty not vindictiveness.)