We at BMEsTalk believe that this Father’s day, black children and their parents should take a moment to appreciate the unofficial role of father figure that black male educators so often step into.
In recent years, black male educators made up only 1.7% of the national population of teachers in the United States–an astoundingly low number considering the increasing amounts of diversity in the student population. Furthermore, evidence has shown that by having a diverse array of teachers, all students benefit–not just students of the same race as the teacher.
BMEsTalk is taking this Father’s Day to discuss the importance of black male educators in their professional roles, their communities, and their lasting impact.
The Importance of Black Male Educators
It’s incredibly common for black boys to go through their entire educational experience without having a teacher that looks like them. However, the presence of black male teachers has a positive impact on black kids that no other kind of teacher does.
Because black male teachers are able to share their lived experience with young black boys, they’re better able to create a space for black boys to achieve academic success. Without them, these boys are underserved by teachers that don’t push them.
The presence of black male teachers not only leads to higher graduation rates, better behavior, and higher test scores, but it also allows other students to witness a black man in a leadership position, expanding the ways in which people perceive Black men.
Thanks to modern media, the dominant perception of the black man is as either a tough thug or a celebrity, athlete, or entertainer. By being exposed to black male teachers and their unique perspectives, black boys are more able to overcome these stereotypes and grow into wholesome adults.
Black male teachers develop curriculums that directly align with the needs of their black male pupils. They help young black boys learn to:
Listen to and respect the feelings of others
Advocate for themselves
Become more socially aware
Increase their ability to use their voices
And because of their shared lived experiences, they can call upon cultural touchstones to maximize learning opportunities and express complex problems in ways that black boys can more easily comprehend.
Additionally, black male teachers have a different approach towards discipline. Instead of having a misbehaving child report to the principal’s office, black male teachers are more likely to implement de-escalation tactics in their classroom. This firm, but fair approach further allows a child to develop as an intentional, emotionally mature member of society.
By having black male educators at an educational institute, their students are exposed to a more diverse community, allowing for further development as global citizens and well-rounded citizens moving past instinctual biases based on race.
The benefits of having a black male teacher cannot be overestimated. Additionally, having a more diverse workforce leads to the breakdown of social inequalities and inequities, it teaches children how to be global citizens, and it drives innovation.
Research has shown that black male teachers are particularly beneficial for black male students. When students are taught by a member of the same race, they’re more likely to perform better and stay in school. Black male teachers are more familiar with the cultural needs of black students, and are better at creating a space for academic achievement. They expect more of students of color.
Working Environment for Black Male Educators
Black male teachers across the nation have reported experiencing similar situations when working in public schools.
Acting as Police
When a colleague is faced with a misbehaving student, black male teachers report that these teachers (especially white women) are more likely to turn to them for help. This has left many black men feeling like their hard earned teaching expertise is undervalued when compared to their perceived ability to handle tough situations.
Biased Institutional Structures and Systems
When a black male attempts to undertake any teaching preparation programs, they’re likely to face difficulty paying the fees for certification tests, as well as racism, isolation, and marginalization.
When they enter the school system as a professional, they experience further biases and describe hyper-surveillance of administrators whose focus is on implementing a singular, scripted curriculum that leaves no room for breaking down inequities and inequalities.
Low Performing Schools
Black male educators are more likely to be placed in schools with a larger population of students of color. However, these schools also report a lack of resources, lack of peer and leadership support, unrealistic accountability expectations, and inequitable teaching conditions. These conditions lead to a high turnover rate for black male teachers.
More likely than not, a black male teacher will be the only POC teacher. This isolation can lead to feeling alone and disconnected from the overall community and core mission of the school.
Black Male Educators Deserve Reparations
Some people say that this isn’t fair: black male teachers shouldn’t have to shoulder the pressure of confronting systemic and institutional challenges. Black male teachers signed up to teach, not solve racial challenges. But their social sway remains a fact–and to increase the population of black male teachers, these professionals should receive increased pay for their role not only as an educational figure, but as a role model for the next generation of citizens