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Many in the African-American community have pushed the need for black teachers, particularly males teachers, on many levels. But Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., a tenured associate professor at Howard University, recently argued in The Root against the notion that the presence of black male teachers alone will improve graduation rates for black males.

In fact, he says even with an increase of black male teachers, there is no guarantee that black students would even have classes with these teachers. Toldson argues that “even in a district with a representation of black male teachers that is consistent with the representation of black men in the U.S. population, black male students would have little interaction with black male teachers.” He has data to back this up. He writes, “A black male student, who has had about 55 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade across all subjects, could expect to have had one black male teacher in Detroit and three black male teachers in Memphis.”

Compare this to the 10 metro areas with the largest number of black people — New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Dallas-Fort Worth and Baltimore.  Baltimore has the highest percentage of black male teachers with 5.4 percent. Los Angeles and Detroit have the lowest, with 2.3 percent writes Toldson. But he points out “[w]hen one connects the cities to corresponding graduation rates as presented in the Schott report, there is no compelling evidence that the presence of black male teachers alone will improve graduation rates for black males.”

Most Southern cities are more like Baton Rouge, La., which has a population of 439,013 (52 percent black), and less than 1 percent of the teachers are black males.  “The Urgency of Now: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males” from the Schott Foundation for Public Education, found that the graduation rate for black males in Baton Rouge is 42 percent.

And, he says, forget the misconception that black men don’t want to teach.  “Selection biases within alternative teacher-certification programs, such as Teach for America, and well-documented deficiencies with national teacher-certification examinations thwart many black males’ ambitions to teach,” he reports.  And many men in education choose a different path. Nearly seven percent of black men with a degree in education become educational administrators, compared with five percent for black women and white males, and only 2.8 percent for white females.

It’s an interesting read, providing a good deal of food for thought. Do you think the education system would be dramatically improved if more black men were teachers.

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