As a part of my series on educator diversity, I’m having conversations with educators of color that have expressed an interest in speaking with me about their experiences. The goal of these conversations is to provide voices to the plight of educators of color, and to show how we can not only get more young people of color into classrooms and into education in general, but that investments also need to be made on the back end to ensure we keep really good educators in the work.
For this interview, I have the opportunity to speak with Kevin Gold, an experienced educator with a demonstrated history of working in the civic & social organization industry. Kevin has spent most of his career working to ensure that young people have access to the people and resources they need to succeed personally and professionally. He’s a Temple University graduate that’s skilled in management, leadership, project management, public speaking, and social media.
Malcolm Davis (MD): Hi Kevin, thanks so much for joining me for this conversation!
Kevin Gold (KG): No problem, looking forward to connecting!
MD: First let’s talk about some of the reasons why young people of color aren’t becoming educators. You said it’s salary, can you elaborate on that?
KG: The field of education has not been made to appeal to young people of color in regards to pay. The powers that be haven’t done a great job of making it equitable with salary versus workload. I got into education because of what I didn’t see as a student, and I found my niche working with Black boys effectively.
MD: Same, I felt it was important to be the representation for young people that I didn’t really have myself.
KG: Exactly. When I became an educator I understood the disparity of getting Black people into the classroom is tied to the lack of compensation. We require a lot from educators, but then don’t pay according to those expectations.
MD: Compensation has come up frequently during these interviews. I’m very interested to see how (if) salary is addressed through policy at the state and federal levels. Like you said, we require a lot from educators but don’t pay them according to their contributions. To shift a bit, you said work/life balance is preventing educators of color from staying in education, can you tell me more?
KG: It goes back to expectations, schools have become accustomed to requiring so much from teachers and most of us are taking work home to make sure we’re stepping into the next day fully prepared. On the back end you’re missing out on something, like spending time with our friends or children. We miss out on that outside time because so much time is dedicated to the school environment. Schools many times are expecting too much from teachers, which is leading to burnout and also using your own resources for items in your classroom.
MD: It’s pretty easy to see the clear correlation between compensation and work/life balance. If you’re expected to take work home, and to miss time with loved ones, the expectation is that you should be paid for it. That makes sense though, and our policy makers need to step up to get our educators the best compensation possible. We know the importance of representation for our young people, you didn’t have many educators of color as a student, how did that affect your sense of culture and pride as a person of color?
KG: I’m still in the field of education because of the lack of representation and it’s important for students of color to see us so they can see themselves in this position.Young people then can aspire to be an educator, especially young Black boys. It became important to me to do this work because I know that Black children need to see us, and see themselves in these roles.
MD: No question about it! So did not having educators of color make you want to become an educator?
KG: Yes. I didn’t have representation, I can count on one hand how many Black men I saw in school. My math teacher in 9th grade was the first Black male I had who taught a primary content area. He taught me a valuable lesson about when to use my voice and when to listen. In 8th grade band I had a Black male as well, and I got to see Black men of influence in the space. I knew how it felt as a student to not have that representation, I knew I had to take up space in spaces that weren’t created for me. Education sort of fell in my lap, there have been a lot of challenges, but I’ve been very successful in this field over the last 13 years.
MD: Well Kevin, thank you for standing in that void for our young people and illuminating for them what’s possible. It’s been a pleasure connecting with you today, and I know your students are lucky to have an advocate like you.
KG: This was great Mal, thanks again for having me.