Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Former Teacher: Essay on Equity Falls Short

July 12, 2021 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

After reading Sonya Douglass Horsford’s opinion essay, “Whose Vision Will Guide Racial Equity in Schools?” (March 17, 2021), I was struck by the language and implications that followed. I can only read the remedy to past and current divestment and discrimination offered here as an essentialist, monolithic view of Black Americans. Setting aside the white/Black false dichotomy the article constructs, the essay also fails to recognize the many Black Americans who have historically held leadership positions in education, including Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Note: The only mention of conservatism lies between “white militants” and “conspiracy theorists.”

During my tenure as a teacher, I tried my darndest to maintain, above all else, rich personal relationships with as many students as would let me annoy them. Often those students were awkward young boys. I did not pretend to be blind to the color of their skin. Nor did I see it fit to assume their beliefs, cultural upbringings, or present abilities.

Asking parents and community members about their experiences and needs is one thing, but no single vision ought to dominate, nor are all Black Americans subscribed to the Teachers College school of thought on this matter. Even Horsford’s colleague Prof. John McWhorter has red-flagged the danger of seeing Black Americans as a monolith.

Educators are servants of the mind and soul—and perhaps our greatest tool, as Horsford relates, is to whom we lend our ears. If we are bold enough to listen mindfully and consciously to our neighbors, constant categorization of individuals into oppressor/oppressed groups serves little purpose. That mindset is worlds away from trauma-informed or culturally responsive practices. Misguided efforts to soothe our idea of a student’s racialized experience too often lead to a prejudice of low expectations among white educators motivated by guilt.

Cameron Cerf
Retired Teacher
Tucson, Ariz.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2021 edition of Education Week as Former Teacher: Essay on Equity Falls Short


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity A School Openly Discusses Race in a State That Bans It
At Millwood High School, discussions on race are everywhere, and students say the lessons are essential.
7 min read
Students pass through the halls in between classes at Millwood High School on April 20, 2022 in Oklahoma City.
Students change classes at Millwood High School this spring in Oklahoma City.
Brett Deering for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion The Buffalo Massacre Is Exactly Why We Need to Talk About Racism With White Students
Too many white people are receiving their information about race from racist media rather than their schools, writes David Nurenberg.
David Nurenberg
4 min read
On May 15, people march to the scene of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
On May 15, people march to the scene of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Rourke/AP
Equity & Diversity Native American Children Endured Brutal Treatment in U.S. Boarding Schools, Federal Report Shows
Deaths, physical and psychological punishments, and manual labor occurred at the more than 400 federal boarding schools.
5 min read
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at the Cherokee Immersion School on Dec. 3, 2021, in Tahlequah, Okla. The Interior Department is on the verge of releasing a report on its investigation into the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Wednesday, March 16, 2022, the report will come out next month.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at the Cherokee Immersion School in December, in Tahlequah, Okla. Her agency's report documents harmful conditions, deaths, and physical punishment for Native American students forced to attend federal boarding schools.
Michael Woods/AP
Equity & Diversity Early Transgender Identity Tends to Endure, Study Suggests
Children who begin identifying as transgender at a young age tend to retain that identity at least for several years, a study suggests.
2 min read
Conceptual picture of transgender flag overlaying shadows and silhouettes of anonymous people on a road.
iStock/Getty Images Plus