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More Black Male Educators Sought Across TN

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Monday, October 4, 2021   

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Among Tennessee students, 40% are children of color, yet only about 3% of teachers in the state are Black men.

In Memphis, two groups are working to boost the number of Black male teachers and partnering with local school districts.

Dr. Patrick Washington, executive director of the Man Up Teacher Fellowship, a teacher preparation program geared toward Black men, said because of the small pipeline, districts should be making strategic and intentional goals when it comes to recruiting, hiring and retaining Black male teachers.

"And making sure that we are holding our school leaders, school districts accountable, and saying, hey, what is your plan?" Washington explained. "Because you do have to be intentional about recruiting this particular population of people."

Washington noted his organization hopes to increase the number of male teachers of color in schools and Black male college students majoring in education statewide by 5% over the next five years.

Dr. Diarese George, executive director of the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, pointed to research which showed students of color who have a Black male teacher are more likely to take advanced-placement or college-preparatory classes, and more likely to consider continuing their education after high school.

"Chronic absenteeism goes down, graduate rates increase, and the likelihood of someone being able to apply and persist through college is a reality," George asserted.

Washington believes institutions have to start early when it comes to generating interest in teaching and in offering opportunities for Black male high-school students to consider teaching and gain experience, all before college.

"Identifying these young men and teachers of color as early as 11th grade, and giving them opportunities throughout the summer to earn money while also learning some of the foundational principles of supervising kids," Washington urged.

Studies also suggest having diverse teachers benefits all students and exposes them to different perspectives and experiences.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.


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