Abstract

This study explores 1) the multilevel intersectional factors that have influenced Black Southern Nevadan pre-service and in-service PK-12 teachers to study education and become (or continue being) teachers; 2) the intersectional experiences of Black Southern Nevadan teachers in their pre-service education or careers; and 3) the pedagogical strategies that Black Southern Nevadan teachers deploy or anticipate utilizing to teach Black and diverse learners. This research aids in the reparation of the ‘leaky teacher pipeline’ in Southern Nevada, where Black and Brown teachers are historically underrepresented and needed. By conducting individual and focus group interviews, it seeks to understand the ways in which social categories and relations, arenas of influence, and historicity can influence the recruiting, training, and sustaining of Black teachers, and the assets they bring to the classroom.

Introduction

  • In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) declared segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
  • But this resulted in the closure of Black schools, and discriminatory hiring practices pushed Black teachers out.
  • Segregation was never legally instituted in Nevada like in the Southern states. However, de facto segregation has led Las Vegas to be called “the Mississippi of the West” (Douglass & Forletta, 2014). For example, the predominantly-Black Historic West Side was systemically underdeveloped by those in positions of power (Fagan, 2022). De facto segregation also manifested across schools.
  • In 2020, Black teachers accounted for 8.5% of CCSD teachers, while over 14.4% of students were Black. Meanwhile, 78% of the district’s teachers were white, compared to 24.3% of the student body.
  • We seek to learn recruitment and retention practices that center Black teachers’ experiences and voices.


Linda Brown (child) after the SCOTUS ruling.

The first grammar school of Las Vegas was opened on the West Side to all races in 1923. But. Not long after, segregationist city planning forced Blacks from downtown to the West as they faced not being able to renew their business licenses if they did not move. After this, whites moved to the south and east.

Research Questions

1

What multilevel intersectional factors have influenced Black Southern Nevadan pre-service and in-service PK-12 teachers to study education and become (or continue being) teachers?

2

What have Black Southern Nevadan teachers experienced in their pre-service education or careers in relation to their intersectionality?

3

What pedagogical strategies do Black Southern Nevadan teachers deploy or anticipate utilizing to teach diverse learners?

Methodology

Intersectionality

“Intersectionality investigates how intersecting power relations influence social relations across diverse as well as individual experiences in everyday life. As an analytic tool, intersectionality views categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, class, nation, ability, ethnicity, and age—among others—as interrelated and mutually shaping one another. Intersectionality is a way of understanding and explaining complexity in the world, in people, and in human experiences” (Collins & Bilge, 2020, p. 2).

Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw was the first to coin the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon.

Crenshaw illustrates intersectionality as a crossroads.

Multilevel Intersectionality

Sociologist Floya Anthias (2013) devised a framework to operationalize the study of intersectionality. Educational scholar Anne-Marie Nuñez (2014) then developed the figure to the right to visualize it.

Level 1: Social Categories and Relations.
The overlapping ellipses in the center represent our interlinking identities.

Level 2: Arenas of Influence.
Due to our identities, we have different experiences in the “arenas” that structure society:

  • Organizational: How people are structurally positioned within institutions and systems
  • Representational: The discourse about different groups within the institution
  • Intersubjective: Relationships between people (e.g., students and teachers) or between people and non-person actors (e.g., students and curricula)
  • Experiential: How a person feels about themselves in the context of an institution.

Level 3: Historicity.
Those arenas are always embedded within the ‘historicity’ of the society that they exist in.

Methods

21 Teachers

13 in-service & 8 pre-service were recruited for a diverse array of identities, origins, and living and teaching locations.

Qualitative Interviewing

Individual interviews & focus groups probe into participants’ multilevel intersectional experiences, teaching strategies, and thoughts on the Black teacher shortage.

Thematic Analysis

Preliminary findings discern themes in response to RQs. We share just two findings here.

Preliminary Results

Being Surveilled

This theme suggests that the structural positioning and intersubjective treatment of Black teachers can be used to surveil and control them within the institution.

  • Gary described that as a Black man, his school leaders expect him to fulfill the role of “disciplinarian” to Black and Brown students who they deem behaviorally defiant.
  • Gary explained that when he is students’ first Black man teacher, this negatively shapes their image of him and hinders his ability to develop caring relationships with them that foster their learning.
  • And when Gary displays characteristics that fall outside the school leaders’ expectations, he is policed. For example, when he devoted extra time to helping a young Black girl in a special education class grasp a skill, a white woman teacher exclaimed that he was babying the student and accused him of only helping her “because you have a daughter.”

In Gary’s experience, being structurally ordered to be a disciplinary force toward Black students while being socially reprimanded when he constructs restorative relationships with them, perpetuates an unjust experience for both him and his students.

Say their names

Whose names are pronounced correctly is a power issue that connects to discourses around race, culture, and language. Marquita shared the importance of students not only knowing their name, but also correcting teachers when they pronounce it wrong. She said she makes it a priority to learn all her students’ names and to pronounce it correctly.

“I would make it a point to sit with children, and I would have them say their name to me until I pronounced it correctly. And then I would tell them you are your name, and if a person can’t be bothered to learn how to pronounce your name correctly, they’re not worthy of your conversation. I always correct people when they mispronounce my name, no matter what the environment.”

Our names hold our very identity. Teachers can make students feel important by learning their names.

Conclusion

“So, diversity is vital in this time… Representation is vital in this time”

– Roosevelt, Preservice Teacher

Black teachers are a marginalized group in the nation’s school system. What is vital is the implementation of enhanced strategies and resources to recruit and retain Black teachers. This is to ensure that there is appropriate diversity among teachers and that they align with the student population. Participants recognized the need to effectuate equity for marginalized students and to support all students. Echoing Maya Angelou’s life philosophy of reciprocity — “when you get, give; when you learn, teach.” We must value Black teachers’ efforts to effectuate equity for students and learn how Black teachers’ efforts are structurally undermined and countered.

To truly ‘repair the leaky teacher pipeline,’ we must transform the arenas of influence that have historically marginalized Black teachers. This requires us to excavate the ways in which they are positioned within those arenas, first and foremost by centering their voices.

Research Team

Arianna Hicks

Co-Principal Investigator & PPP Fellow Researcher

De’Ana Mauldin

Co-Principal Investigator

Dercia Quinn

Co-Principal Investigator & PPP Fellow Researcher

Monique Raven

Co-Principal Investigator & NIEPRR Fellow Researcher

Eden Wolde

Co-Principal Investigator & NIEPRR Fellow Researcher

Marla Goins

Principal Investigator

This research was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Nevada Department of Education to support the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation (NITEP), the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation, Retention, & Research (NIEPRR), and the Nevada Educator Preparation Institute & Collective (NV-EPIC).