While students of color make up half of the American student population, only 17 percent of teachers are minorities. That means millions of our children are being taught by people who do not look like them, and may not understand where they’re coming from.
Educator and author Chris Emdin has some practical advice for teachers who want to more effectively teach and reach Black students and has detailed these practices in his new book, “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education.”
Emdin joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss his book, how teachers can connect with African-American students, and called out other educators who he accuses of making kids “pawns” in their charter school experiments.
A quote from “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all too” states:
“To be in touch with the community, one has to enter into the physical places where the students live, and work to be invited into the emotional-laden spaces the youth inhabit.”
Emdin expounded on the quote selected from his book, saying, “If you have teachers that are going to teach in urban spaces or in urban communities … we have to have a concerted effort to ensure that they live in and are embedded in those communities — they go to the church, they go to the barber shop, they understand who the students are.”
He added, “If the teacher sees them in the community and authentically recognizes who they are there, they have a different approach to be able to teach and engage with them.”
In speaking about how African-American students are taught in public and charter schools, Emdin said, “Across schools, there is an approach to teaching and learning that is fundamentally opposed to the way that people engage in spaces outside of schools.”
Emdin also believes we need to use the term “violence” when we talk about certain interactions between students and teachers, going so far as to say, “If there is a way I engage in the world and you spend half the time that you used teaching me telling me that that has no value, that’s violent.”
As it relates to the public versus charter school debate, the passionate author said, “It’s not a public charter argument, it’s a teaching and learning argument.”
“You can’t say that you see magic happen in a particular classroom and then demonize that space, use that approach and create a construct around it that may very well lead to privatization, that may very well lead to over-funding of people’s private pockets,” Emdin said.
Martin asked Emdin about a Facebook post where he called out Sean “Diddy” Combs and Dr. Steve Perry for what he considered using Black students as “pawns” in their charter school slated to open in Harlem later this year:
Everybody keeps asking me questions about Diddy’s new school. Imma give it to you straight up no chaser. You don’t get no pass because you Diddy. Homie that you partnered up with is a sucker. Kids are not vodka bottles or velour suits so you can’t just jump in the game from the sidelines with blindfolds on and make some quick cash. I’m watching every single step. If you make kids pawns in your little experiment, I’m coming for your neck #goodluck #takethattakethat
Emdin said of the quote, “Just because you work in hip-hop and you have made some money off of the community for a bunch of things, does not mean that you have an opportunity to be engaged in education.”
“Just because you start a charter school somewhere … does not mean you’re going to get a free pass. When you’re talking about teaching and learning, you cannot use the language of high expectations. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, we’re just going to make it better.’”
Emdin stated if Dr. Perry is offering an alternative educational model, he should explain in great detail what the alternative method is and said, “You’re not going to make money off of young people on my watch and I’m watching every single step, I will critique every single step.”
He later added, “Don’t tell me about high expectations, tell me what you’re going to do about those young people.”
Watch Roland Martin, Chris Emdin, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education” in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.