I've been MIA for a few days while I busily jumped through hoops. I just read through all the blogging I missed, and here's the exchange I found most interesting:
Eduwonkette pointed out that a wide body of research has found that teachers are less likely to stay in schools with a large population of racial minority students.
Mike Petrilli responded by asking if that meant that teachers are racist and points out that KIPP schools and some others have had success attracting teachers to teach in schools with overwhelmingly racial minority student bodies.
I have two things to add:
1. No, it doesn't mean teachers are racist. Recent work has found that teachers tend to end up in schools where they feel more comfortable -- where students and teachers are from the same geographic area, social class, race, etc. as themselves. That makes sense. People like be surrounded by familiar things.
2. Pointing out that KIPP attracts teachers to teach racial minorities is a bad example for two reasons. First: I don't have statistics handy, but I don't think KIPP's teacher retention rates are too stellar. KIPP and some other high-flying charter schools rely on young idealistic teachers (including many in TFA) who are willing to devote their lives to the school for a few years before they move on to something else. Secondly, even if KIPP retained the talented teachers it recruits, that wouldn't be proof that there are enough people willing to teach in these schools across the entire country. I'll agree with his point that the working conditions probably matter more than the racial make-up of the student body, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider the racial make-up of a school.