My Black male students look up to me. They seek accountability, positive affirmations and a strong, Black male role model. However, Black boys don’t wake up seeing a teacher as a job that brings in money or clout. So instead of striving to be like the males they may see as teachers, Black boys turn to what they see most. Negative images of Black males.
Our investment in Black boys should be towards the areas that help fill in their academic gaps. But instead, we will invest more in athletic programs than we will Black male teachers. Organizations such as Profound Gentlemen, BMEsTalk, The Men of Book, etc., are supporting brothers who are currently seeking to be or teaching in classrooms. The challenge is the investment public school districts are willing to make in improving the salaries of teachers. We will spend more money on seeing our Black boys rap on stages and run on fields than investing in the Black men who can help them do these things while also walking across graduation stages.
Black boys think about fame, influence, power, respect, and moreover they see their success. Our society makes entertainment, rapping in particular, more appealing to Black men. I understand just why so many Black boys want to be rappers. The art of rapping empowers Black masculinity which is embedded in one of the most negative stereotypes of Black men, thugs.
Black boys relationships with public school teachers is much like the relationship between Black males and the police.
There are public school teachers who believe Black boys walk around public schools acting like thugs because they are young gangsters in the making. Black boys often find a turn around in their academics and behaviors when they have a Black male teacher. Not just a mentor, coach or tutor. Black boys need a strong, efficient, academic teacher who is a Black male. Black male teachers not only help change the negative stereotypes of Black males.
We replace the negative images of Black males with positive ones each day in our classrooms. Our presence changes the way children see Black males in society. Sadly, not every child sees a Black male in the classroom. In fact, Black men make up only 2% of educators in America. So, how many Black boys will actually experience a Black male teachers K – 8 which are critical years in the educational journey? We don’t think along the lines of the importance of Black boys seeing someone who looks like them in front of the classroom.
We don’t invest in Black boys’ academic success because we don’t see that as a reality for them. It is not just us; they need to also see it. I have spoken publicly about the importance of my presence as a Black male teacher in the classroom. We need more Black male teachers in early learning, special education, and in general education classrooms across various disciplines in public education.
We advocate for more Black male teachers, but public schools have to provide better salaries for Black male educators!
This won’t happen if Black men who enter the field can’t make a livable wage. The field of education doesn’t pay salaries to teachers where they can run a household. This is hard for men in our society who are supposed to be heads of households and providers. If we truly want to see Black boys excel academically, we have to invest in the salaries of Black male teachers just like we do on the initiatives and programs for them to entertain us. Parents who have students with Black male teachers, counselors, coaches or instructors will tell you that in this COVID19 pandemic, Black male teachers are providing academic support to students and providing relief for parents.
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.