Four white teachers in a predominantly black Philadelphia school are suing the principal, charging that he said they were unfit to teach black students, New York's Daily News reports. A central allegation in the lawsuit is that Principal Charles Ray forced the four teachers to read an article that said, "White teachers do not have the ability to teach African-American students" as part of their required professional development. An attorney for the teachers says they were "systematically harassed over the entire academic year and intimidated and openly told they couldn't teach African-American students."
Ray is also accused of openly reprimanding the white teachers in front of staff, students and parents, and creating an "atmosphere of distrust and favoritism," where he undermined white teachers. Ray led the teachers to believe that his conduct was part of an approved policy or was part of a pattern of practices sanctioned and supported by "higher authority," the New York Daily News reports.
Creating an environment that's hostile and alienating to these teachers is worse than discriminatory — it's shortsighted, and ultimately harmful to the students Ray claims to care about. (If the white teachers weren't struggling to connect before, you can bet they are now!) May we suggest working on efforts to recruit more black teachers instead of undermining the efforts of white teachers? While this principal may have sincere concerns about the impact of cultural literacy on student performance, his alleged behavior is totally counterproductive and serves only to create an environment in which both students and educators lose.