To the Editor:
I was so appreciative of Bettina L. Love’s words in “Stop Trying to Recruit Black Teachers Until You Can Retain the Ones You Have,” (March 23, 2023). Recruitment of BIPOC educators has become a common goal as part of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, yet there is little thought to the support being provided for BIPOC educators once they have started their new job. My own experience in higher education resonates with this reality.
As a woman of color, I have been tokenized as the only, or one of few, to represent those that look like me. I have been tasked with heavy workloads, impending deadlines with little support or mentorship, and low salary. On top of that, I have faced microaggressions, gaslighting, and erasure.
In my field of early-childhood education, there is a further complication: There is an overrepresentation of white leaders while the day-to-day caregiving or teaching in child-care settings is done by BIPOC women. Child-care workers are underpaid, devalued, and subjected to long hours and hard labor. This is how whiteness operates within our current systems.
I echo Love’s message: Stop recruiting BIPOC women until there are systems in place to support and retain them. Create a workplace culture that values their contributions and ensures that they have coconspirators and mentors that encourage their ideas and practices. And there’s more: Make sure there is a clear path for promotion into leadership roles. Reserve their seats at the leadership table.
Assistant Teaching Professor of Justice
College of Education, University of Washington
A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2023 edition of Education Week as Reserve Seats at the Table for BIPOC Educators