Friday, September 09, 2011

What to make of this?

I was filling out a registration form for an upcoming teacher's conference that is focused on social justice and ethnic diversity. Among the questions was, "Ethnic Group/Race". One of the options was, "White/European/Jewish."

Given the classic Jewish penchant for education, it's interesting that there have only been a few teachers in the family tree: my maternal grandfather worked as a bursar at Brooklyn College and occasionally gave lectures in New York history (he was working on his phD when he died of a heart attack); a great-great-uncle taught night school to immigrants until he died in the 1919 flu epidemic, and a distant cousin whose parents left Poland for Cuba put his bilingualism to good use and taught high school Spanish for 30 years.

I know that the liberal Jew going into the trenches of public education to work with minority kids has become a recurring educational trope from the past 100 years, but given that I didn't go to public school and, AFAIK, never had Jewish teachers, it's a little weird for me to run into little nuggets like this that show me that,

1- There really are a lot of Jews in education, and,
2- As much as we may want to claim a minority status, to everyone else, we're still just white.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I know that the liberal Jew going into the trenches of public education to work with minority kids has become a recurring educational trope from the past 100 years,"

I don't know what it's like in the west coast, but back here on the east coast, Jews teaching minority kids in public schools has been out of fashion for the past 40 years or so. Check out the history of Albert Shanker and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville teachers strike of 1968.

I once dated a Jewish woman who was a public school teacher in the inner city, but she quit after it was made clear to her that they didn't want white teachers. This was more than 25 years ago.

I'm sure there are still lots of Jewish public school teachers, but I suspect that most of them don't teach in majority black school districts.

-Conservative apikoris

BBJ said...

They may have phrased it like that because they've run into Jews who don't identify as white. Arabs and Persians normally also get packed into 'white' on the forms.

MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

You have to remember that while we are a bonafide minority we are distinct in that we can hide that status. With a ball cap, a nice casual outfit and a good haircut no one can tell you're Jewish.