Now that school is out, teacher recruitment is kicking in. We all know that you can’t teach all students the same right? Well, guess what? Not only can we not teach all students the same, but we also need to have the right teachers in front of our students in the classroom. We have powerful sisters in the classroom, but a scarcity of black male teachers.
So, what does this mean? What role models do we have for our students? Our African American student populations need powerful black male role models to lead by example and guide them to successful lives to shut down the pipeline to prison.
The current buzzword phrase is “diversity and inclusion.” But, how are schools or districts adhering to this goal without representation in the classroom? Fifty-one percent of the kids sitting in the seats in classrooms are minority students. Eighty-two percent of the teachers teaching them are Caucasian teachers.
Without black teachers in the classroom to teach black students, many negative factors come into play. Black students are less apt to see college graduation. They are less prone to enroll in Pre-AP, AP, or gifted courses. They are expected to do less from those that don’t look like them.
Only 2% of educators in the classroom are black males and 2% are Hispanic males. There is a racial gap that needs to be addressed here. Districts need to hire the population being served. Teachers need more culturally-relevant training and awareness. More males need to be hired as the industry is comprised of 23% males in a female-dominated field.
Recently, I worked with a student at a charter school in Dallas on Algebra. When the STARR results came out recently here in Texas, I advised this student that she passed. The entire time I was working with her, she thought she wouldn’t pass (and at times had an attitude when I was trying to help.) Upon the great news, she said, “Wow, I passed? I’m going to cry. You are kidding right?”
As a matter of fact, all the black students in Algebra 1 that I and the teacher worked with, passed the test. This particular young woman was the only black girl in her sixth grade and she struggled.
According to a report in The Chicago Tribune, the University of Illinois at Chicago will invest about $1 million in an initiative to recruit and train male elementary education majors of color, similar to how universities recruit and train star athletes.
There are about 575 black male public elementary school teachers in Illinois—roughly 1% of the total—and the number who are Hispanic and male is even smaller, at approximately 465. Black students with black teachers were suspended less often than black students with white or Hispanic teachers. Black students were three times more likely to be assigned to gifted programs when taught by a black teacher than a non-black teacher. In addition, having one black teacher in early elementary grades led to greater expression of interest in college by African American boys and raised the proportion of black students taking a college entrance exam by 10%.
Solutions for Recruiting More Black Male Teachers
- Hire male educators of color for elementary school education
- The Call Me MISTER program in Chicago, Clemson, and other schools (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models). Each person admitted to the program receives a full scholarship covering tuition and room and board for becoming an elementary education major
- Hire millennial black male educators who can relate to students.
- Increase teacher retention by ensuring teachers are heard by school administrators when addressing issues. Teachers are normally unhappy with school administration, teaching assignments and accountability/testing. Better relationships with administration, getting teachers in front of schools that make sense for them, and reducing the accountability/testing strain will increase retention immensely.
The journey may be long, but getting the right people on the right bus going the same direction is key to the success of our minority teachers and black and brown students.