Why aren’t there more black male teachers in the classroom?

So I recently read a few articles about how difficult it is to find black young black males to enter the teaching field. Black Male Teachers in Short Supply  and Where are the black male teachers?

Interestingly enough, neither one of the articles really spoke to reasons why I am a bit apprehensive to become a teacher. As a matter of fact Black Male Teachers in Short Supply  was the only article that actually gave reasons to why there is a shortage of black male teachers in the field. The article listed low pay, the notion that teaching is a feminine profession, and the fact that fewer black male students are pursuing education degrees [therefore resulting in less men qualified to enter the classroom.] Check out the extended article here for a video on the story.

I appreciate the spotlight on the topic, but these articles didn’t mention any of the important reasons why I am nervous about my future career.  Recently I’ve been feeling this weird omni-present pressure slowly growing in intensity around me. I think these articles finally helped me realize where this pressure was stemming from. I would be interested in seeing if other minorities felt the same way.

Before I go into my reasons, let’s all get on the same page for one second: Children that grow up in urban/inner city and rural environments have not been receiving an education adequate enough to keep them competitive with their suburban and private school peers.

Understanding the battle field:

As a black male looking to go into the field of education it is clear to me and many others that the current education system is not doing enough to help young children of color learn, dream, and achieve at the same rate as other children here in America. The education that children in urban areas receive is ill fitted to suit their unique needs. Quite frankly our children are not learning. This is a HUGE problem. Increasing the impact and understanding of education is a make or break issue that black families and communities MUST make their number one priority. Anyone thinking about entering the field has to be ready to fight a war in the classroom every day to ensure the development of our future generations. The pressure of feeling like I must educate MY people or continue to let many of them struggle is very real and unbelievably intimidating.

Where are the mentors and peers that I can look to for support as I journey through this work:

As I envision my participation in this fellowship I often imagine myself on a battle field flanked by my peers and mentors on either side as we valiantly fight off the evils of ignorance, and help bring enlightenment and knowledge to our people. (This is REALLY what I think about at night time yall, LoL)

However, the reality of the field of education is that there are very few faces that look like me in the battle. It’s disheartening to feel as though I’ll have to fight on the battle field alone. My excitedment about the fellowship is in part due to idea of having other people to lean on as thought partners and guides. Who will I be able to turn to to seek professional advice? Who will I be able to turn to for encouragement when I’m feeling defeated in the trenches? I have this vision that I can come out victorious in this war on education because I know that I will have my squad with me. But I’m slowly starting to come to the realization that it will just be me out there fighting the enemy. Imagine for a second how this fight from the movie 300 would be completely different if 90% of the Spartan Army vanished.

Superhero Syndrome:

I’m a firm believer that any person of color expecting to enter this field must be ready to live as a die-hard change agent. It will take nothing short of super powers to quickly turn this battle around. With urban education being in turmoil, I envision it will take someone with MLK’s likability, Malcolm’s knowledge and discipline, and Obama’s cross-over appeal to change the trajectory of our youths’ lives. I worry that I will not be able to bring about the change that I know is necessary so that my younger cousins and family members can live their lives according to their wildest dreams. However, someone has to spark the revolution. Is it in me to be that individual?

These are some of the reasons why I feel pressure to not only get into teaching, but to do my absolute best at it. There simply isn’t room or time to allow the system to continue to under-develop the prospects of any children in this country. I wonder if black teachers felt similar pressures 100 years ago, 300 years ago, 1000 years ago?

Elementary school teacher, Terris King II sums up my feelings nicely in the article Where are the black male teachers. When asked why he chose to become an elementary school teacher, Terris provided this as his answer,

“… In ‘The Talented Tenth,’ DuBois said educating our people is a responsibility. This created the framework for how I live my life. Teaching is more than a career path. It is a responsibility. It is an obligation to go back and teach.”

It is my obligation – Therefore I must teach

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