The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly and dramatically reshaped education across the globe in March of 2020. By some estimates, 1.6 billion children globally left the classroom, with many students yet to return. The impacts of this unprecedented disruption range from learning loss, a widening of the digital divide, and projected teacher shortages. Each of these issues acutely affect Black and Brown students and brings into sharp focus the urgent need to address another issue—the dearth of black male teachers.
A quick Google search of the term “Black male teachers” reveals several key questions about the absence of black male teachers in America’s school. The first two pages of search results alone yields articles with the following titles:
• “Why Black Male Teachers Matter”,
• “Do Districts Actually Want Black Male Teachers?”,
• “Why Are There So Few Black Male Teachers?”, and
• “Where Are All the Black Male Teachers?”.
Although a Google search is not a substitute for a rigorous academic study on the topic, it demonstrates widespread acknowledgement that there is a problem and underscores the need to address it.
A recent report from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) identifies one of primary contributors to the shortage of black male teachers in the classroom—a lack of diversity in teacher prep programs. The report stunningly claims that “to get to a point where teacher demographics mirror current student demographics, we’d need an additional one million teachers of color.” Furthermore, the report noted that 48 out of 50 states “have higher percentages of white teacher prep program enrollees than white public-school students.” Despite the shortcomings of traditional teacher prep programs, the report notes that while traditional programs are, on average, 69.6% white, alternative programs are only 46.8% white. I’d like to tell you about an alternative program that is entirely composed of minority men—The Man Up Teacher Fellowship.
Founded in 2016, The Man Up Teacher Fellowship seeks to increase the number of highly effective teachers of color in public schools. The fellowship achieves this goal by recruiting men of color to teach, providing tuition assistance to graduate level programs in education, and one-on-one mentoring for each potential recruit. Additionally, the teachers receive a $5,000 stipend for first three years (out of a five-year commitment) of participation in the program. Currently, the Man Up Teacher Fellowship partners with Relay GSE, Educational Testing Services (ETS), Mississippi State University, and the University of Memphis for training and on-going education for the teachers.
Tim Abram, Man Up Teacher Fellowship Board Member