Although I’m a science teacher, I’ve become an avid student of history, and share with students a history generally gutted from curriculum.
My studies have given me a wonderful respect for and celebration of the Black experience, as I have learned about the undying resilience of Chicago’s Black community. My community’s education and economic statistics don’t reflect laziness or apathy about education and progress. They reflect systematic and structural disinvestment and exploitation.
In an effort to dig beyond the narrative of “these kids don’t care…their families don’t care” and understand how I’ve worked in completely segregated and under resourced schools (this is the first year out of 13 in CPS that I have not taught in a one race school) my studies have taken me to Beryl Satter’s reporting on contract housing sales. These were predatory practices believed to have cost Black migrants to Chicago between $3-4 billion through discrimination, leading to racial violence and the dismantling of Chicago’s own “Black Wall Street.” Then there are Raj Chetty’s research findings that Chicago has America’s widest racial gap in economic mobility, and that Blacks are at the bottom of the gap.
So, when I think about the generations of obstacles, I feel tremendous pride for my community and the students I have been fortunate to teach (and learn with). That we keep showing up for school, family and community every day speaks to our undying hope in a future of prosperity and justice.
Tiffany Childress-Price is a science teacher at Payton College Prep and a co-sponsor of RISE, an initiative that celebrates Black girls and women.