Exploring the Decisions of African American Teachers About Remaining in Public Education

Exploring the Decisions of African American Teachers About Remaining in Public Education

Author: 
Tara Kamilah Wade
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to explore African American tenured teachers’ decision-making process related to remaining in public education in Western New York in 2015-2016. Teachers’ remaining in the United States public schools has been a problem. It has been, especially, difficult to retain African American teachers who leave the profession in large numbers. This exodus has created a scarcity of African American teachers in education. However, while some teachers choose to leave, others choose to remain and we do not have enough information on those experiences that make them stay. This study used 12 semi-structured interviews to collect data that helped answer the research question. Identifying the experiences that contributed to African American teachers' decision to remain in public education provided information that can be used for creating appropriate conditions to encourage not only African American teachers, but, also, other teachers to remain in public education. The three emergent themes included internal, external, and motivational factors that influenced African American teachers to remain in public education.
Dedication: 
There is a fire that everyone has burning inside of them, whether it is a cinder, spark, flame or glow. It is a tough journey through life to keep focus on your purpose so that the fire stays lit. It was the fire that God put inside of me that allowed me to complete this doctoral journey. With God, all things are possible! Throughout my journey, there have been many family members and friends who have helped to keep my fire lit. My parents Charles and Anna allowed me to rise from the ashes like the phoenix. My Grandmother, Dollie Mae, ignited the fire in me by instilling the importance and value of an education. My siblings Charles, Anna, Tanisha and Mark, they had no trouble supporting my fire with kinetic energy when needed. My nieces Anna and Za’Niya who have kept the fire going with their love, understanding and patience during the journey; I hope that they have caught the fire. To Tausha, Sarah, Carla, Kourtney, Aysha and the many family members and friends who are too numerous to name who have been the wood maintaining my fire by encouraging, listening, cheerleading, believing in Dr. Wade and most of all for being there. Special thanks to Carmella Buggs who sacrificed her time, to be the wood. You all have provided the wood to not only help keep my flame burning but to also increase my flame so that I am on fire. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! (Lomax, Lomax, & McMurray, 1939). I hope the fire that is released from this study will help to turn up the fire of the teachers and students whom I dedicate this research study to. I challenge you to not only catch and keep the fire, but to light the fires of those around you so that they too can rise. More Fiyah!
Acknowledgements: 
First, I have to give glory and honor to GOD! This is a true testament that if you have faith and believe, with GOD all things are possible. I would like to thank Dr. Ruzanna Topchyan, my dissertation committee chair, for quickly responding and agreeing to be my chair when I needed one. You provided timely feedback, countless reads, and pushed me to do my best work. Your dedication to seeing me complete this journey is greatly appreciated, I am extremely grateful for you. To my committee members Dr. Jacqueline Mangieri Brown and Dr. Jeffrey Roach, thank you for your support throughout this process. To Dr. Kacie McCollum, thank you for sharing your life stories, insight, knowledge and time. You told me that my work would be “legendary.” I would like to acknowledge the Syracuse University’s Ronald E. McNair program for planting the seed in me that I could obtain a doctorate degree. I want to thank all of the African American teachers that participated in the study, you are my superheroes. I would like to also acknowledge several former students of mine, Ebonee, a then seventh grader, who was elated to see me the first day of my first year of teaching because I was her “first black teacher.” And to the Class of 2006, who said I was their graduation present, because I was their “black teacher” for their senior year. It was those experiences in the back of my mind that kept me going.