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PODCAST: Where Are All Of The Black Male Teachers?

September 29, 2019

September 29, 2019

Can you think of the first time that you had a Black male teacher in school? The amount of Black male teachers nationwide is just 2% of all teachers. I’m speaking with Dr. Kimberly Underwood, the research chairperson at the University of Phoenix about the lack of Black male teachers in K-12 grade nationally to find out why and what we as parents can do about it. Watch and learn.


Black Male Teachers Speak


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The number of Black male teachers in American schools is disproportionally low. Despite the enormous benefits of providing students with diverse role models, Black men make up only 2% of the teaching workforce. This gap reflects systemic problems that pervade the American education system and emphasizes the necessity for targeted initiatives to recruit and retain Black male teachers.


Representation Matters in Education

As research has shown, teacher diversity has a positive influence on students.  Students of color, particularly Black students, benefit from a teacher who matches their own racial or ethnic identity. Moreover, an African American or Black student’s achievement experiences a small closing of the achievement gap, college attendance increases, and expulsions and other discipline instances drop in number.

I enjoy coming across representations that contribute to and broaden my image of my people. According to research by the Institute of Labor Economics, even just one African American educator in elementary education made Black students 13% more likely to go to college. In addition, those who took at least two African American teachers were 32% more likely to go to college.

Statistical Disparity

As effective as heterogeneous teaching staffs are, the statistics paint a concerning picture. As per the U.S. Department of Education, only approximately 7% of teachers nationwide were Black at the time of the study. Of that group, only 2% of them were Black men. In comparison to the student body, which ranges to 15% of students being Black in the public school system, this number is frightfully low. The discrepancy between the percentage of Black male students and Black male educators is not just staggering; it serves to mirror larger trends within the educational system.

Reasons For Underrepresentation Of Black Male Teachers

The challenges that have hindered the attainment of sufficient representation of Black male teachers in the profession are multifold. Firstly, the inadequacy of the recruitment pipeline has been instrumental in reducing the number of Black male teachers entering the field. This is because many Black males do not see teaching as a feasible career due to the meager salaries, minimal support, and the perception that teaching is a feminine profession. Even those who enter the workforce leave soon due to the hostile atmosphere including racial bias, isolation, and a lack of mentorship, among others.

According to the American Educational Research Association, a study showed that job dissatisfaction was prime for Black male teachers in the US are two times more likely to quit their jobs than be retained. Job dissatisfaction among this group of teachers is significantly high. The high rates of job mobility among Black male teachers also contribute to the underrepresentation.


Black male teachers are essential in the classroom. Photo shows a black male teacher smiling at his student who has his hand raised.

black male teachers are essential in the classroom.

The Impact on Students

The absence of Black male teachers has significant outcomes for students. These teachers have been proven to lessen absenteeism, suspension rates, and enhance academic achievement among Black students. They also play a vital role in shattering stereotypes while providing non-Black students with a more diverse view of leadership and achievement. Failure to do so can have a negative impact by contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. Black students are more likely to receive disciplinarian actions and suspensions. This is influenced by their relatively higher numbers and how some educators pass judgment when faced with several bodies and a few disciplinary infringements. Black male educators have a way of alleviating these issues since they can relate to the students while providing culturally sensitive teaching and discipline.


Efforts to Increase Representation

There have been various efforts to address the imbalance and recruit more Black male teachers. Call Me MISTER and the Black Male Educators for Social Justice are such initiatives, seeking to recruit Black men to teach and help dismantle barriers keeping them away from the profession. These networks provide mentorship, career support and development, and an understanding and accepting social environment, creating the conditions for the improvement of the current negative experience, thus putting an end to the legacy of exclusion and bias. As such, the absence of Black male teachers constitutes an urgent national issue. The empirical evidence of the harmful consequences of the current situation is simply overwhelming.

The benefits and advantages of a more representative teaching staff are clear and acknowledged. However, the current situation is dictated by deeply entrenched systemic bias. For the gap to be closed, targeted recruitment efforts, thorough and effective support systems, and neutralization of the negative bias trends have to be developed. This approach would ensure the existence of equal opportunity and equity in education. The reality is that the journey to these goals passes through increased representation of Black male teachers. It is very difficult but necessary. We must redouble our efforts and meet the objective.


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