Parent concerns are important considering that in Georgia and in Metro Atlanta districts, Black children are disproportionately placed and served in special education programs.
Especially Black boys.
After the special education department presentation during the live streamed board meeting, concerns about the guardrails arose again from stakeholders. Special education is an area where many inequities can be found.
Some of the schools recently on the news in Atlanta i.e. students from Frederick Douglass High School and Carver High School reflect some of the greatest inequities faced in the city and those inequities aren’t collaboratively being addressed by the school board.
Representation is key and currently the Atlanta Board of Education doesn’t have a Black male on the board who understands the lived experience of young Black children living in lower income communities.
A huge part of my work in education has been to improve the educational outcomes for Black boys, especially since we’re failing them at higher rates than other children in public education.
Recently, during my campaign for the Atlanta Board of Education Seat 9 At Large, I highlighted the urgency of policy development and school improvement plans incorporating family engagement best practices.
Building relationships is an essential family engagement best practice that would help improve the communication to parents and families. Most schools serving the majority Black led schools in Atlanta benefited from having a male engagement program led or driven by the Parent Liaison, parents and families.
The need for more Black male teachers reflects the importance of engagement and representation.
EdLanta has focused our equity work for teacher representation to improve the educational outcomes of students most impacted by inequity in Atlanta. Our continued partnership with Profound Gentlemen has helped to build the retention of male educators of color across the Metro Atlanta area.
“The benefits of Black male educators aren’t just academic, though”, says Patrick Washington, founder and CEO of ManUp,. ManUp is a Memphis teacher preparation program that aims to help recruit and retain more men of color into classrooms. Organizations like ManUp, The Center for Black Educator Development and Profound Gentlemen are essential to improving retention rates of Black men in education.
Mario Jovan Shaw a.k.a. The King of Black Boy Joy and the Chief Impact Officer of Profound Gentlemen leads the social emotional development work of the organization.
“We can’t reach Black and brown children impacted by poverty, racism, and other social and economic inequities if we aren’t supporting the two entities that are with them the most, parents and teachers!” says Shaw who believes that self care isn’t a taboo topic. Black males do a lot in the educational space and wear many hats. We’re also advocating for pay equity to sustain our families while building our communities.
Most recently during the live streamed APS board meeting, parent leader Wykeisha Howe asked about the disproportionate numbers of Black boys being suspended. The recent Black Male Educators Conference led by long-time educator, Sharif El Mekki, highlighted the impact of Black male teachers on the academic and social development of children, particularly Black boys and are struggling in a system continuing to leave them behind.
The article by Samantha West highlighted the voices of several Black male educators who know the positive impact of Black male teachers in classrooms. Patrick Washington, founder and CEO of ManUp, said Black male teachers are most impactful with Black boys “Because they’re better able to relate to one another.” Washington also said, “Black male teachers can forge relationships with Black boys in a way others can’t, and they can work together to make school work for them both.”
Black men are able to identify with Black boys in ways others can’t. We know the experience and journey they are on matriculating through an educational system that struggles to accept, embrace, educate, and help prepare them for society. Black boys have too long been failed in the educational system and here we are still working to build awareness and solutions to get equity for them.
To see more ways your public school district can get support with retaining Black male teachers, please visit Profound Gentlemen.
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.