To the Editor:
In the July 16 Bayonne Community News, I read the front-page article, “Calls for more black educators in Bayonne.” Members of the activist group, Black in Bayonne, attended the June Bayonne Board of Education meeting to advocate for our city’s black and brown students.
Camille High, one of the group’s founders, discussed the significance for students of seeing teachers in the schools who look like them. Another speaker at the meeting, Rev. Dorothy Patterson, pointed out that only 19 African American teachers serve in a system with 10,000 students.
Various Board members gave different reasons for the lack of educators of color, but their reasons were not very convincing. Note that the 2010 Bayonne census had almost 9 percent of our residents identifying as Black and almost 26 percent identifying as Hispanic or Latino. The Assistant Superintendent of Personnel mentioned that he has “a comprehensive equity team” to recruit Black educators. While this sounds promising, why does the team meet only “on a yearly basis,” if this issue is so important?
The Bayonne schools need to prioritize the hiring of diverse teachers. We also need teachers who speak other languages such as Spanish and Arabic. Bayonne is a cosmopolitan city that is part of a major metropolitan area. Its educator workforce should reflect who we are.