After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans fired its mostly black teacher corps. Now its charter schools are trying to convince black educators that there’s a place for them.
NEW ORLEANS—Throughout her first year at KIPP Central City Academy, Raven Foster heard the kind of compliment every educator loves to receive from students: that she was their favorite teacher. The reason, however, wasn’t because her kids loved her science class, or because they liked her sarcastic sense of humor, or because they appreciated her no-nonsense attitude. One after another, they told her they liked her because she’s black.
Foster knew she’d be one of just a few black teachers when she started working at this New Orleans charter school in 2012. While the overwhelming majority of the student body is black, nearly two-thirds of the teachers were white when she took the job. But her first year of teaching was hectic, filled with home visits, grueling lesson planning, and a school wide move to a brand new building. The racial makeup of the staff wasn’t a concern she had time for—until she realized that her kids were noticing it.