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By Nehemiah Frank

An African-American pupil’s chance of finishing high school and graduating from a four-year institution is markedly increased by having black teachers.

Research indicates between the third, fourth, and fifth grades black students, who are exposed to teachers who look like them are (1) less likely to leave high school before graduating and (2) more likely to pursue an advanced degree.

Unsurprisingly a study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, found that America’s current teaching workforce is majority white.

Where are all the African-American Teachers? 

from the Department of Education’s study

While these findings may not appear problematic to White America, Black America’s progress is encumbered by not having enough African-American teachers in the classroom. Black America is a part of America! If White America continues to alienate minority groups from access to education, then our entire system is vulnerable to other countries that stay competitive by practicing inclusiveness.

A cognitive dissonance exists between African-American teachers’ perceptions of black academically-motivated pupils and those of white teachers. This is especially alarming because this subconscious bias may prevent white teachers from believing black students are capable of succeeding in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Why does having a black teacher matter?

  • The probability a black student drops out before earning their high school diploma decreased by 29 percent when exposed to a teacher who looks like them.
  • The probability of a black male student dropping out before graduating from high school decreased by 39 percent when exposed to a black male teacher.
  • Black pupils of both sexes are more likely to attend a four-year institution when they’ve had black teachers.

The study also found that white students are less inclined to believe racial stereotypes when they have a black teacher.


Black Teacher Shortages in the State of Oklahoma

  • Black males are 1.9% of the teacher working in Tulsa where 24% of the elementary students are black.
  • Black males represent 2.9% of elementary teachers working in Oklahoma City.
  • Black males represent 0.5% of elementary teachers working in Edmond where 15% of the elementary students are black.

Oklahoma is a challenging place to solve the problem of black teacher shortages because of the state’s ongoing budget problems. However, it should not be a deterrence from what is of utmost importance – educating our youth.

These recommendations are from Travis J. Bristol, Ph.D’s Black Men of the Classroom: A Policy Brief for How Boston Public Schools Can Recruit and Retain Black Male Teachers.


Target Black Male High School Students to Enter the Teaching Profession

  • Policy makers and district officials looking to increase the pipeline of Black male teachers should consider opportunities for Black boys and young men, in BPS, to experience teaching. Such opportunities might include targeting and training a select group of Black male high school juniors and seniors to enter the teaching pipeline.

Attending to Retention Can Increase the Number of Black Male Teachers in BPS

  • District officials should give attention to retention if they desire to increase the number of Black male teachers. Half of the Groupers, who were teaching in some of the district’s most underperforming schools, left. Resources and leadership of the high-poverty, high minority schools must be improved.

Design Professional Development Targeted for Black Male Teachers

  • To increase Black male teacher retention, district officials should concentrate on improving these teachers’ experiences and the schools in which they teach. The district’s current initiative, the Male Educators of Color Executive Coaching Seminar Series, which was modeled after the Boston Teacher Residency Male Educator of Color Networking Group, could be bolstered with specific attention to providing socio-emotional support to male teachers of color and a space to reflect on their practice.

Racial and Gender Awareness Training for New and Current Administrators

  • District officials should include racial and gender awareness training for new administrators and on- going training for current administrators. These sessions could be designed and run by male teachers of color in the Male Educators of Color Executive Coaching Seminar Series.

Encourage Schools to Have More Than One Black Male Teacher on the Faculty

  • To deal with Loners’ isolation, the district should identify schools with one Black male teacher and strongly encourage administrators to hire additional Black men.

Enlarging Scope of the Office of Equity

  • Enlarge the scope of the Office of Equity to review all cases where Black male teachers are excessed or dismissed.

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