My Life as a Black Teacher in Black Schools Was Hell

This story is one of hundreds Colin Flaherty planned to publish in a book before his death. American Renaissance will post one every week.

I’m writing to give you a bit of insight into the life of a black teacher who does not subscribe to the victim mentality that is rampant within the black community. My life as a black teacher in black schools is hell. Because I believe in personal responsibility and accountability, I’m not a “sistah.” According to other black people, I’m a coon, sellout, Uncle Tom, etc. I no longer care.

Some background: While I wasn’t on the extreme end of the spectrum, you could’ve labeled me a liberal “social justice warrior” during my undergraduate years. I believed all the hype: blacks were still helpless victims of systematic racism, modern feminism was a noble cause, Barack Obama would bring hope and change. I voted for him enthusiastically in 2008.

But by 2012 I had finished student teaching, and was starting to have doubts about the liberal view. I’d started listening to Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, and Ben Shapiro, etc. and reading independent news websites. They were the “red pills” I took in large doses. However, reading is one thing; experiencing is another. I credit my complete awakening to one thing: becoming a teacher in Title I schools. These are such bad schools that the federal government gives them grant money in a usually futile attempt to improve them.

At my first school, the children were out of control. They would curse teachers, fight every day in the hallways, and never pay attention in class. I’d try to call their parents, but they almost never answered their phones. Or, in some cases, the parent would be defensive and uncooperative. When I assigned homework, maybe one or two students per class would do it. When the zeros went into my gradebook, the assistant principal came to my classroom. She asked me about the number of failures in my class. I told her, “The students won’t do their work. I give them class time and even offer to stay after school for extra help. I’ve also offered extensions. They don’t do anything.” She replied, “I understand you’re struggling as a new teacher. You haven’t realized yet that these students come from difficult homes. You can’t expect them to do homework. In fact, when I was a teacher, I never gave homework. We did everything in class. You have to meet our ‘babies’ where they are.”

I asked: “I get that their lives might be difficult, but why are we allowing them to use this as a crutch? Won’t this continue the cycle? Aren’t we crippling them by coddling them? Shouldn’t we prepare them so they can get out of their current situations? How are we getting them ‘college and career ready’ if we tell them they don’t have to do homework, or any work for that matter, because they’ve had a hard life?” She did not appreciate this 21-year-old novice teacher asking relevant questions. She replied curtly, “I suggest you find a way to make sure these grades get better by the end of the semester,” and walked out.

That day, I had an epiphany: How is this the white man’s fault? You are literally telling me to teach my students to underachieve. You are asking me to give them something for doing nothing. How is this going to help them? They’re going to be stupid, entitled victims . . . but will no doubt blame the white man and systemic racism for their failures. They are not born victims; blacks are producing victims — and white liberals enable it. My eyes were opened. I realized there was nothing I could do to change things within this district (they needed to keep their Title I money, so teachers had to fudge grades and suppress discipline reports). I was sick of the verbal abuse from students, intimidation from administrators, and feeling miserable at work. I was done. I resigned at the end of the school year.

I then went to another predominantly black school district. Same crap.

I resigned and took the job at my current school district. It was the only job I could find. It’s very hard to get into the better school districts. There are more white students at my current school, and having more diversity has been something of a saving grace . However, white flight is in its final stages. My school will probably be all black in four years. The teaching is garbage and the discipline policies are a mess.

Enter Senate Bill 100, which made schools get rid of “zero tolerance” policies and go through tiers of “restorative justice” before handing out consequences. This is an effort to stop what’s called the “school-to-prison pipeline” but should be called the “home-to-prison pipeline.” Schools don’t turn these children into criminal thugs; their homes do.

Here’s an example of how Senate Bill 100 works. At my school, a student brought a knife to school. He started an argument with two students in the cafeteria. He ended the argument by pulling his knife out. He was restrained and taken to the Dean’s Office, and an administrator called his mother, who came in for a meeting. The mother insisted that because her son was in the cafeteria when he pulled out the knife, no one could prove that he brought it to school as a weapon. Maybe he needed it to cut up his food, she suggested. Of course, she made accusations of racism. Now that we have SB 100, there can be no zero tolerance for bringing knives — especially if you can’t prove intent — so the boy got a couple of days of in-school suspension.

The children aren’t completely stupid. They can figure out that there are no consequences for bad behavior. I’m in a system that is not willing to change or even face reality. Public education is promoting liberal propaganda and falsehoods. It validates victimhood and teaches helplessness. Standards are going away in favor of feelings. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t send my kids to public schools.

When I told a few trusted colleagues that I plan to resign and leave education altogether, they said, “Oh no! You can’t! These are the kids who need you.”

I’m so sick of this guilt trip and the idea that black students need only black teachers. My current school wants black teachers to avoid accusations of racism, because it’s a majority-black school with mostly white teachers and administrators. And yet, most of these Title I schools don’t support no-nonsense black teachers who promote accountability. They don’t support black teachers who refuse to perpetuate the myth of black victimization in a “systemically racist” society. They don’t support black teachers who encourage black students to shake off this slave mentality. And because my values are considered conservative or “right leaning,” I actually had a white administrator tell me that I don’t know the struggles of the black community. I’m not kidding!

I did not grow up rich. I had two loving parents, a mother and a father, who worked hard and instilled values in their two children. They always told us that they wanted us to be better than they were — to make the most of our lives and to fulfill our dreams. Education was important and I earned straight As with the support and guidance of my parents. They did not let me play down my intelligence when I was teased by — you guessed it — other black kids in my school. Instead, they told me to hold my head high when I entered my honors and AP classes. I knew that the only way I could attend college and grad school would be through scholarships and grants. So, I was a focused student with goals and the drive to succeed. My race was not a hindrance. My family never told me the white man was holding me back. I am proof it’s all a myth (I’m black, I’m a woman, but I’m well-traveled, I’ve earned two degrees, I’m financially independent).

Yet, black groups claim that I am downtrodden because of my race and sex. They can’t seem to understand the correlation between intact families/moral values/high expectations/lack of victim mentality with success. I’m finished. The kids who need me are the ones who want to learn — not thugs who act like feral animals because, you know: #blacklivesmatter. I’m over it. You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.


2 thoughts on “My Life as a Black Teacher in Black Schools Was Hell”

  1. Sad, sad commentary. However, it lines up with what I have gleamed from reading and viewing news reports. Why is “public housing” constantly the location for drug gangs and destroyed property? Should not people down on their luck appreciate all the free support from the community? Could the problem be the destruction of the nuclear family? Allowing a pregnant teen to become a ward of the welfare system and ignoring the responsibility of the father in the support and nurturing of the child is the causal factor. Welfare officials should be bringing the parents of both to decide the future responsibility that is not the community tax payers. But the welfare “system” has to be changed and soon to reverse the inner city family-school-crime problems.

  2. Nice to read the truth from someone that knows better than anyone else.
    The public school system in the ‘bad areas’ has been a joke for decades.

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