The Atlantic

What It’s Like to Teach at One of America’s Least Racially Integrated Schools

Angela Crawford has taught English at a Philadelphia high school for 23 years. Not many veteran black teachers like her are left nationwide.
Source: Angela Crawford / AP / Hulton Archive / Getty / The Atlantic

Editor’s Note: In the next five years, most of America’s most experienced teachers will retire. The Baby Boomers are leaving behind a nation of more novice educators. In 1988, a teacher most commonly had 15 years of experience. Less than three decades later, that number had fallen to just five years leading a classroom. The Atlantic’s “On Teaching” project is crisscrossing the country to talk to veteran educators. This story is the fifth in our series.

On a late February afternoon, Angela Crawford, an English teacher, stood in front of about three dozen Philadelphia educators—mostly young, black women—as they all swapped stories of small victories and challenges in their classrooms. Dressed in a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt and slim black slacks, Crawford, at one point, reflected on what has helped her remain resilient while working in some of the nation’s least resourced and most segregated classrooms for 23 years.

“Black women are caretakers of everyone else but ourselves,” she said. “You need daily rituals for your mind, body, and soul to stay in this profession. No one is going to move me from my daily workout and sleep. Block out weekly time

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