How can your schools recruit and retain more black teachers?

Across the country, initiatives have emerged to grow the ranks of black male teachers
By: | February 3, 2020
Students of color comprise more than 50% of the K-12 population but black male teachers represent less than 2% of the total teacher workforce.Students of color comprise more than 50% of the K-12 population but black male teachers represent less than 2% of the total teacher workforce.

The job of disciplining students, particularly those of color, often falls to black male teachers, who then become viewed as “disciplinarians first and teachers second,” according to a new report examining their career trajectories.

Black male teachers also are expected to mentor students of color, a role which has benefits but may also unfairly burden those teachers with full responsibility for those students’ success, says the report, “Having Our Say: Examining Career Trajectories of Black Male Educators in P-12 Education,” by The National Network of State Teachers of the Year and the University of Phoenix.

However, while students of color comprise more than 50% of the K-12 population, black male teachers represent less than 2% of the total teacher workforce, the report says.


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Research also shows that about a third of the teachers who leave the classroom are promoted to positions in administration. “Yet, African American males are often passed over for principalships and superintendencies or are consigned to the ranks of coach, disciplinarians, or other noncurricular position,” the report says.

The report also makes several recommendations for growing the number of black male teachers and enhancing their careers:

  • Increase targeted recruitment initiatives and incentives, such as loan-forgiveness programs and tuition reimbursement.
  • Partner with historically black colleges and universities to attract more black males to the teaching profession.
  • Enact legislation that embeds educator diversity at all levels as a core tenant of civil rights.
  • Prioritize district funding to ensure a targeted onboarding experience for black male teachers and other teachers of color.
  • Provide meaningful district and school level professional development and targeted support for alternatively certified teachers.
  • Prioritize the hiring of more Black male educators as assistant principals, principals, superintendents, and district officers.

Who’s taking action?

State legislators in Colorado recently introduced a bill that would create a task force to determine what prevents the hiring and retaining teachers of color, Chalkbeat reported.

The bill would also requires the Colorado Department of Higher Education to break down the results of teacher licensure exams by race, ethnicity and gender.

“Our students deserve the best educators, and those aspiring to be educators deserve to be set up for success,” the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. James Coleman, told Chalkbeat.


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Across the country, initiatives have emerged to grow the ranks of black male teachers.

Sharif El-Mekki, principal of Mastery Charter Schools-Shoemaker Campus in The School District of Philadelphia, helped created The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice to inspire younger Philadelphia students of color to consider teaching, District Administration reported last year.

The fellowship links teaching to social justice, a pathway that El-Mekki calls the “school-to-activism pipeline.”

Educators in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland’s largest district, launched the BOND Project (Building Our Network of Diversity) to develop recruitment, retention and mentoring strategies for a district where approximately 400 out of 13,000 teachers are African-American, Asian or Hispanic men, DA reported.

And the Council of Chief State School Officers launched the multistate Diverse and Learner-Ready Teachers Initiative to help state education leaders create diverse and culturally responsive teaching corps.

“Segregation persists,” Saroja Warner, the council’s director for teacher workforce initiatives, told DA. “Every kid needs to have a set of teachers who will represent the diversity of our country.”


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