NJPP: NEW REPORT: The “Whitening” of Camden’s Teachers

NEW REPORT: The “Whitening” of Camden’s Teachers
For Immediate Release

February 11, 2020 – Over the last twenty years, the teacher workforce in Camden, New Jersey has shifted from majority Black to majority white, according to a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). The change in demographics coincides with the proliferation of charter schools in Camden, which hire fewer Black teachers than the city’s public school district.

“The state, which controls the schools in Camden, has plowed ahead with charter school expansion — but hasn’t always stopped to think about the consequences,” said Mark Weber, Ph.D., report author and Special Analyst for Education Policy at NJPP. “It’s disturbing to find that the teaching workforce in a predominantly Black city has gone from being majority Black to majority white, mostly because of charter school expansion.”

The report, The “Whitening” of Camden’s Teachers, finds that, since 2000, enrollment in Camden’s publicly funded schools has shifted dramatically from the Camden City School District (CCSD) to charter and renaissance schools. As a result, teaching positions in CCSD have been replaced by positions in charter/renaissance schools. In CCSD, 44 percent of students and 41 percent of teachers are Black. In the city’s charter schools, however, 31 percent of students are Black, but only 16 percent of teachers are.

In 1999, 52 percent of Camden’s teachers were Black; by 2019, only 30 percent were. Over the same time period, the percentage of white teachers in Camden increased from 38 percent in 1999 to 55 percent in 2019. The dramatic demographic change in Camden’s teacher workforce leaves students with fewer teachers who share their racial and ethnic identities.

“Students of color benefit from having a racially and ethnically diverse faculty, so the state should reconsider the policies that are reducing the number of Camden’s Black teachers,” Weber added.

The rise of charter schools has also resulted in less experienced teachers, as charter school teachers are less likely to stay on the job. While CCSD teachers have, on average, 14 years of experience, charter and renaissance teachers have an average of five and seven years of experience, respectively. As a whole, the average Camden teacher had 14 years of experience in 1997; today, they have less than 11 years.

The report notes that the “whitening” of Camden’s teacher workforce is a direct result of state — not local — policies. The CCSD has operated under a state fiscal monitor since 2006 and under full state control since 2013. Similarly, plans to replace public schools with charter and renaissance schools were developed by the Christie administration.

“The policymakers who have caused this shift have an immediate obligation to acknowledge the problem and propose solutions to address it,” the report concludes.

New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) is a nonpartisan think tank that drives policy change to advance economic, social, and racial justice through evidence-based, independent research, analysis, and advocacy.

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