Can Black teachers quiet quit?
Sure, they could—in theory. Any teacher can quiet quit and there is a contingency that is. I wouldn’t be surprised that within the number, there are Black teachers engaged in the practice. However, practically speaking, they can’t. Because for Black teachers, to quit quietly comes with (unintended) consequences, for themselves, for prospective Black teachers and also the students and families they serve.
… and quite honestly, Black teachers that quit quietly are endanger of being fired.
White teachers who quit quietly may also be endanger of being fired, but Black teachers are more so because of racism. Nationally, Black teachers only make up roughly 7% of all teachers, meaning there aren’t many of us in classrooms nationwide. Quiet quitting by Black teachers just gives white school and district leaders another reason to fire them.
The ripple effect is that Black teachers from other districts or prospective Black teachers from colleges who apply for a teaching position at any given district may not get an opportunity to teach. That’s not the fault of those Black teachers who are fired but rather those individuals looking for any reason to let those Black teachers go or who believe Black teachers are inferior educators.
Sadly, like Black quarterbacks in the NFL, Black teachers are given a short time span to show and prove. They’re considered replaceable, not indispensable. You hope that if fired, they’re replaced by another Black teacher but that is no guarantee.
Lastly, Black students and their families are the ones that suffer the most, no matter who’s quitting quietly. But it would hurt more for a Black teacher to do so considering the impact that Black teachers have on the academic performance of Black children. Because Black teachers enter the classroom to give back and pour into Black children (in many cases).
But another explanation for why Black teachers cannot quit quietly is the invisible tax. That tax won’t allow Black teachers to quit quietly. What the invisible tax does is simply force Black teachers to decide whether they will stay in the classroom or leave.
In an article that detailed one (white) teacher’s rational for quiet quitting, she shared that her pushing back against being asked to go above and beyond for work actually made her a better teacher because she became more efficient. She said:
“You don’t even have to just give up, but scale back on your commitment, or your presence, or your hustle, and you’re still getting the job done.
You’re not shorting your (school) on their productivity. You’re doing what you’re expected to do.”
She pushed back on the notion of quiet quitting, saying the expectation that teachers should always “go above and beyond” is the real problem, and that “just doing your job” should be enough. But the reality is, for Black teachers, that just doing your job is never enough. It’s because since white teachers are often incapable or uninterested in building relationship with students as Black children to teach them the way they need, we are always treated as the “encyclopedia” for cultural interpretation.
Refer to the Black (encyclopedia) teacher on matters of relating to Black children, how to teach Black children, how to discipline Black children, how to talk to Black children… and Black parents—and once those teachers got the information they’re looking for, they put us back on the shelf.
But also, doing our job is simply never enough because since we’re so few in schools where Black children are in general, we are the governance space for Black children. We are the guidance office. We are the social workers. We are the extended family for some and the community resource for others.
For example, for my high school juniors who attend the local community college for classes and can’t afford the food options around campus, my office is their cafeteria. I get them juices, water, crackers, cookies, cereal and fruit to hold them over until they go home after their next class. I can’t just do what the job description calls for because I’m invested in people, not simply a position.
Teachers of all racial backgrounds go above and beyond for kids. This is true. However, Black teachers, understand the unique call on their lives as teachers. They recognize that teaching Black children (as well as Latino/a student’s) occupies a unique place where who they are is often the difference between Black children getting what they need or getting more of the same—which is nothing much.
We can’t quit quietly; we either push on or we get pushed out. The thing to take note is that WE do the former while OTHER do the latter.