Increasing African American Male Teachers in Public Schools Benefits All Students
One Triad university says the lack of African American male teachers hurts all students.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, there were 3.7 million full-time teachers in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. This number also includes private schools. Dr. Dawn Tafari, a member of the clinical faculty in the Education Department at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), says less than two percent of those instructors are African American males.
This week, WSSU is hosting a forum focused on the next generation of African American male teachers. Dr. Tafari says increasing the number in the classroom will help break negative social stereotypes some children and adults have about black men. “It’s important for children to see that black men are intelligent, loving, kind, wonderfully gentle with children and they want nothing more than to see children be successful,” says Dr. Tafari.
She also says having more black men in the classroom will help close the cultural gap that exists in many school. "It's important for black children to have a relationship with a teacher who has experienced some of the things they have experienced," explains Dr. Tafari. "Especially in our urban areas, a lot of black boys don't see successful black males and who have successfully navigated the K-12 system themselves, then that can help to be a motivation."
Most of the forum participants are education majors attending historically black colleges and universities across the country. A few are already teaching. Organizers also say the forum enables participants to create a professional, supportive network that can help black men while in college and in the workforce. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Wells Fargo are also sponsors of this event.