teacher sustainability

Black Male Teachers are Suffering in Public Schools

Today’s hot news in education is based on The Thomas B. Fordham Institute report on Student-Teacher Race Match in Charter and Traditional Public Schools . Charter schools are hiring and retaining more Black male teachers, but like Charter advocate Kenny Knight said, we’re still in crisis regarding traditional public schools!

The TBFI report reflects how charter schools are progressively showing gains in making sure Black students experience someone who looks like them during their academic career in the classroom.

We’ve been saying all along, school choice is the Black choice!

Charter schools are diversifying their teaching staff and increasing student achievement. If we’re going to serve Black students, we’re going to do it well. As a Charter leader, I’ve witnessed charter schools ensure all students have someone of quality in front of them, not just someone of color.

Roland Martin and other advocates have been challenging the traditional school system framework arguing that there’s more than one way to educate children. We’ve also been pushing for more Black teachers to be in classrooms. Charter schools aren’t simply doing this but at 50% higher than traditional public schools.

One recent study found that Black students having only one Black teacher during elementary school decreased a their probability of dropping out of high school by 29%. Traditional schools systems aren’t working to build partnerships to support Black male teachers. Organizations such as Profound Gentlemen are already working with TFA and Charter schools to ensure Black men are supported.

The finding from the report are spot on reflecting how traditional public school systems aren’t supporting Black teachers. Especially Black male teachers that make up only 2% and who aren’t being strongly recruited by traditional public schools. I worked in both the charter school system and traditional public school system. I have never experienced the lack of support and accountability in a charter school network that I did in the recent traditional public school.

Traditional public schools are still funneling large numbers of Black students, especially Black boys into the school to prison pipeline. The 74 highlights from the report the fact that Charter schools are offering better educational outcomes for Black students. One of these factors are that Charter schools are employing and retaining more Black teachers.

Black teachers are rare in traditional public schools, especially in Special Education.

When I returned to the traditional public school system, I thought that I would be to grow in the classroom without having to deal with politics.
My advisers were like you’re Black, male and teaching Special Education, you’ve checked off all the need areas in public schools. Well, I was certainly wrong!

As a traditional public educator in Atlanta, I was well supported by my Principal and school leaders who trained me as well as provided District opportunities. This was vastly different from the recent traditional public school I was in. I believe that Black male teachers and Black students suffer in more in school districts in rural areas that don’t have a grasp on diversity.

Mostly recently, I learned that special education is not about the children in traditional public schools. It’s about the additional funding received. I was not supported by the traditional public school system going into the area of Special Education. Black male teachers disrupt traditional public school pipeline for Black boys to not finish or complete school. I wasn’t supported because Black boys are only given one shot in traditional public schools. Supporting me as Black male teacher in special education meant giving large number of Black boys a chance at success.

A lot of Black male teachers also face challenges with traditional public schools’ HR departments regarding certification and salary. These are other ways to push out Black male teachers in traditional public school districts. It’s a morale issue in traditional public schools that continues to show that Black students and teachers aren’t valued.

Charter schools operate differently for the effectiveness of students in regards to the recruitment and retention of Black male teachers. This report not only highlights how hiring diverse teachers are beneficial to the students but also the field. It’s simple, the accountability for Charter schools is balanced because it was a system created in equity.

We’re still advocating for equity in the traditional public school system because it was never designed to provide and equitable education to Black children.

I was the only Black male teachers; there were two other general ed teachers who were social justice driven. That is what makes the difference. Traditional public schools don’t want Black male teachers who are willing to speak out against the educational injustices that Black children experience in traditional public school classrooms.

If traditional public schools truly want to turnaround schools, they will start putting children and teachers first! School boards and leaders will have to do more than community photo opts. They need to review HR policies and hiring practices that discriminate against Black men.

Black male teachers need to be more than hired but supported in traditional public schools. Retention rates are lower in traditional public school systems for Black male teachers because of low moral. Traditional public schools may have slightly higher pay scales, but the moral is lower.

Charter schools aren’t just offering better educational outcomes for Black students. They are providing better educational experiences for Black male teachers.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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