What It’s Like To Be A Principal Of Color Dealing With White Parents
In a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in northwest D.C., a parent attending a school meeting is angry that her child doesn’t have enough time to play at recess. She berates the school principal — a black woman nearly a foot shorter than she is — in front of the other parents, pointing a finger no more than two inches away from her face and shouting, “How do you expect to keep your job?”
The principal has been at her new job for no more than five weeks, and recess time is unfortunately out of her control due to academic requirements for other parts of the school schedule and other factors. As more parents at the meeting demand answers about recess, the principal eventually tears up. She asks the parents, the overwhelming majority of whom are white, to please trust her.
Scenes like this play out all over the country, according to the administrators, educators, and community education advocates who spoke to ThinkProgress.
Nationally, only 11 percent of school principals are black and 20 percent of administrators are people of color in total. Meanwhile, the teaching population is still very white — at 82 percent of the teaching workforce. So these principals of color are often dealing with pushback from other white people in their district who may treat them as if they don’t have the expertise to do their job due to racial bias.
In recent years, principals of color have filed lawsuits alleging discrimination against school districts for giving them harsher penalties for certain behavior than white staff members, or for holding them more accountable for problems at the school due to their race.
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