I've got a story for you.
A group of suburban students came to visit our urban school in Bridgeport. One of the students rushed up to tell me she loved my hair because I had dreadlocks and so did she. She had never seen a teacher with dreads before. She probably hadn't seen many, if any, teachers who looked like her before either.
Unfortunately, her experience isn't isolated. Even though research has shown the benefits of being taught by high-quality teachers of color, far too many of our students go their entire K-12 experience without having a single teacher who shares their race.
The solution is obvious: we need more teachers of color. But there are significant obstacles that disproportionately impact us, like low salaries and unaffordable housing. However, there is hope!
Right now, there is a bill in the Connecticut General Assembly that would empower cities and towns to create affordable housing opportunities for teachers. This would be a gigantic step toward recruiting and retaining incredible teachers, especially teachers of color, and start closing the diversity gap in our educator workforce.
Will you take two minutes and ask your state legislators to support this crucial legislation. It's already passed out of committee and has a very real chance at becoming law!
At the beginning of every school year, I tell my students the same thing: don't be fooled by the tie. I was raised by a single mom who had four kids, lived in public housing, often couldn't pay our light bill, and faced the pressures of being in a community where drugs were rampant.
See, I don't just look like my students, I share their background. I know their stories, because it's my story too.
Once, when I was teaching a lesson on the 13th and 15th amendments, I asked the class if they knew anyone who went to jail. No hands went up. Then I told them about my own father being incarcerated and a bunch of kids' hands shot up in the air. This shared experience enables me to have a much more meaningful conversation with my students about the material and how it connects to our lives.
But even though I teach in a school that mostly serves black students, I am still only one of two black teachers. We always say that we need more educators of color, but our state has done very little to actually make it happen. This bill is an opportunity to reverse course! This bill would give all teachers access to much-needed affordable housing, but it would especially impact teachers of color.
Will you join me in advocating for this bill? There's an easy-to-use online tool that will let you send a message directly to your State Senator and State Representative urging them to support this bill.
Thank you for standing with me and standing up for our students.