How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality
4. Keys to the Schoolhouse: Black Teachers, Privatization, and the Future of Teacher Unions
Introduction: Locked Out
It was one of those days when I arrived at my elementary school in East Harlem so early that the building was locked. I suspected as much from a block away because I could see two of my coworkers standing outside with their coats and bags. These two women were African American and were old enough to have children my age. Each of them had taught in the school for more than a decade. I had been a teacher in Harlem for eight years at this point, but I was only in my fourth year of teaching in this particular school. My coworkers rang the bell again when I arrived, and we chatted, waiting for someone from the maintenance staff to open the door. After a few more minutes went by, a young White woman (younger than me, at least) approached. I suspected she worked at the charter school co-located in our building, but I did not recognize her. This was not too unusual, though, since I observed frequent turnover in the charter school staff and even administration throughout the school year. There were always new faces in the building. “It’s locked?” the young woman asked as she approached. “Well,” she continued, “you’re in luck!” She reached into her bag, pulled out a key, and proceeded to open the building for us.
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