PDF of Policy Brief: Weber.Baker.Oluwole.Staffing.Report_3_10_2014_FINAL
As with our previous One Newark policy brief, this one is too long and complex to post in full as a blog. Below are the executive summary and conclusions and policy recommendations. We encourage you to read the full report at the link above.
In December of 2013, State Superintendent Cami Anderson introduced a district-wide restructuring plan for the Newark Public Schools (NPS). In our last brief on “One Newark,” we analyzed the consequences for students; we found that, when controlling for student population characteristics, academic performance was not a significant predictor of the classifications assigned to schools by NPS. This results in consequences for schools and their students that are arbitrary and capricious; in addition, we found those consequences disproportionately affected black and low-income students. We also found little evidence that the interventions planned under One Newark – including takeovers of schools by charter management organizations – would lead to better student outcomes.
In this brief, we continue our examination of One Newark by analyzing its impact on NPS’s teaching staff. We find the following:
- There is a historical context of racial discrimination against black teachers in the United States, and “choice” systems of education have previously been found to disproportionately affect the employment of these teachers. One Newark appears to continue this tradition.
- There are significant differences in race, gender, and experience in the characteristics of NPS staff and the staff of Newark’s charter schools.
- NPS’s black teachers are far more likely to teach black students; consequently, these black teachers are more likely to face an employment consequence as black students are more likely to attend schools sanctioned under One Newark.
- Black and Hispanic teachers are more likely to teach at schools targeted by NJDOE for interventions – the “tougher” school assignments.
- The schools NPS’s black and Hispanic teachers are assigned to lag behind white teachers’ schools in proficiency measures on average; however, these schools show more comparable results in “growth,” the state’s preferred measure for school and teacher accountability.
- Because the demographics of teachers in Newark’s charter sector differ from NPS teacher demographics, turning over schools to charter management operators may result in an overall Newark teacher corps that is more white and less experienced.
These findings are a cause for concern: to the extent that the One Newark plan disproportionately affects teachers of one race versus another, the plan may be vulnerable to legal challenge under civil rights laws.
Conclusions and Policy Implications
In our previous brief, we found that the One Newark plan imposed consequences on schools and their students that were arbitrary and capricious. We found little evidence to support the claim of NPS that One Newark would improve student outcomes, and we found that the students who would see their schools closed, turned over to CMOs, or “renewed” were more likely to be black and/or suffering from economic disadvantage.
In this brief, we turn our attention to the effects of One Newark on NPS staff. We find patterns of racial bias in the consequences to staff similar to those we found in the consequences to students, largely because the racial profiles of students and staff within the NPS schools are correlated. In other words: Newark’s black teachers tend to teach the district’s black students; therefore, because One Newark disproportionately affects those black students, black teachers are more likely to face an employment consequence.
NPS’s black teachers are also more likely to have positions in the schools that are designated by the state as needing interventions – the more challenging school assignments. The schools of NPS black teachers consequently lag in proficiency rates, but not in student growth. We do not know the dynamics that lead to more black teachers being assigned to these schools; qualitative research on this question is likely needed to understand this phenomenon.
One Newark will turn management of more NPS schools over to charter management organizations. In our previous brief, we questioned the logic of this strategy, as these CMOs currently run schools that do not teach students with similar characteristics to NPS’s neighborhood schools. Evidence suggests these charters would not achieve any better outcomes with this different student population.
This brief adds a new consideration to the shift from traditional public schools to charters: if the CMOs maintain their current teaching corps’ profile in an expansion, Newark’s teachers are likely to become more white and less experienced overall. Given the importance of teacher experience, particular in the first few years of work, Newark’s students would likely face a decline in teacher quality as more students enroll in charters.
The potential change in the racial composition of the Newark teaching corps under One Newark – to a staff that has a smaller proportion of teachers of color – would occur within a historical context of established patterns of discrimination against black teachers. “Choice” plans in education have previously been found to disproportionately impact the employment of black teachers; One Newark continues in this tradition. NPS may be vulnerable to a disparate impact legal challenge on the grounds that black teachers will disproportionately face employment consequences under a plan that arbitrarily targets their schools.