Let me begin by saying it wasn't my intention to offend any teachers (Latino, White, Black, or whatever color persuasion) with the story I wrote for the Dec. 23 edition of the paper (Teachers 'diversity' gap plagues the state). A caller who found the story offensive didn't leave a name or number to call back, so I don't know what she found offensive in the story -- and I'm going to assume she's a teacher, that's what I can imply from her message. She said she was tired of me writing stories where I found research "from somewhere else" that fit my particular "bias."
I'm going to assume she thinks I believe all children should just be taught by teachers of their same "color": white kids should be taught by white teachers, etc. Or that teachers who are not of color (i.e. white) should not be hired anymore.
There was also a letter to the editor who claimed I'm not being "colorblind." That's one of the problems we have in the good old U.S. of A. We'd like to believe we're colorblind. Truth is otherwise. All you have to do is watch the horrible posters people in this country produce distorting the image of President Barack Obama.
Ah, there are so many ways I could address all this, but very briefly, I'm going to pick just two:
This is my personal opinion: caring, prepared, respectful adults should teach children. Their race, color, sex, sexual orientation, height, weight, preference for perfume, shouldn't even be a consideration. If my personal "bias" did not come through in the story is because it's not supposed to.
I try to gather the best information that's out there (locally, state, nationwide) that better reflects what's happening in our community. Yes, Common Core standards are coming down the pike (too hard to fit on a daily, not local folks involved in the effort that I've been able to find) Yes, teacher evaluations are being discussed (not in Monterey County). Yes, California got a Race to the Top grant for early childhood education (nobody in Monterey County will get funds, or is involved in the discussions of how to come up with quality ratings. I've already checked).
And there's a gap between the percentage of Latino teachers in Monterey County vs. the number of Latino students. It's an issue of concern to some researchers. I did not conduct the research, I did not pull the numbers off my sleeve. This is a topic of national relevance that has some local implications. All I'm trying to do is bring to light some arguments being discussed out in the world into local context.
Monterey County is more than 50 percent Latino (higher percentage of Latino than the state as a whole). The population is highly segregated, with Latinos living mostly in the Salinas Valley, and non Hispanic whites in the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Valley, and along the coast. Issues of ethnicity and race are important in this community -- I'd dare say almost as important as water. I'm willing to bet these issues are not just going to evaporate if I stopped writing about them.