I was watching a Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club interview with singer Jill Scott, and she advised that the need for Black men who are wide awake is currently at desperate levels; particularly our presence, voice, and command. After hearing that, I instantly thought about domestic life in regards to rebuilding the Black family structure. But there is another critical area of need that many of us have been overlooking for far too long, and that’s the classroom.
According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, only 60% of African American males will earn their high school diplomas, and 40% will drop out before their graduation day—half of all Black male ninth graders will drop out before their senior year. However, the graduation rate for latino males is at 65% and for white males, it’s at 80%. The State Higher Education Executive Officer’s Association (SHEEO) also highlighted a few additional problems: non-white students make up the majority in public schools but only 18% of the teaching force consists of minorities, and less than 3% of the teachers are African-American males.
You don’t need a calculator to do this math. It’s no secret that over 70% of Black youth are raised in single-parent households, headed by Black women. So if young Black males don’t have any positive male role models in the home, the neighborhood, or the classroom, is there really any surprise to the graduation and dropout rate? And does this not lend to the school-to-prison pipeline?
These numbers haven’t always been an issue, though. According to SHEEO, before the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that outlawed school segregation, African American men and women constituted a significant measure of the teacher percentage in our communities. After the ruling, however, over 38,000 African American teachers lost their jobs; which resulted in a decline of Black students enrolling in educator preparatory programs. “And new teacher certification and admission program requirements contributed to the loss of another 21,500 black teachers between 1984 and 1989.” Now the need for minority educators, Black males in particular, is at an all-time high. But there is a solution.
Project PR (Project Pipeline Repair): Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs. It’s an innovative approach to increasing the supply of high qualified minority male teachers to serve in low-wealth school districts.
- Project PR will engage a diverse group of stakeholders to develop, implement, and evaluate a research-based, culturally-relevant program that utilizes high-impact instructions including field projects to achieve established learning outcomes.
- A three-year grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation was awarded to fund the project.
- Project PR will also partner with 5 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to encourage more males to pursue careers in education: Tuskegee University, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Southern University and A&M College, Alcorn State University, and Claflin University.
There’s a misconception, which has been perpetuated in white savior films for years, that troubled Black students (males especially) can learn from and gravitate towards anyone who panders to our plight. The numbers show that that’s not true. From personal experience, I know for a fact that Black boys need us, Black men, educating, mentoring, and guiding them in the direction that they need to go. When they’re in a classroom learning about history that’s not their own and from educators who don’t genuinely care about what happens to them when they leave, they tend to act out and/or throw in the towel. That’s why we have to step up, not only because our boys are crying out for help, but because of the unspoken bond and respect that they have for us.
Salute to the brothers who are setting a great example and preparing our youth.
Until Next Time…
Williams, J. (2015, February 11). Black Brains Matter: Why Are Graduation Rates So Low? Retrieved May 21, 2017, from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/02/11/black-brains-matter-why-are-graduation-rates-so-low
(n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2017, from http://www.sheeo.org/sites/default/files/project-files/PROJECT%20PIPELINE%20REPAIR%20Boulder%20Convening%20February%2012-15%20Handouts_0.pdf
(n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2017, from http://sheeo.org/news/sheeo-press-release-state-policy-leaders-collaborate-hbcus-increase-underrepresented-males
(n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2017, from http://www.sheeo.org/projects/ppr