: We are addressing the need.
James Cannon distinctly remembers being the Black child in a class full of white children. He also distinctly recalls two Black teachers among all his K-12 teachers.
It has been shown that representation can make a big difference in a child’s life. Research on Black boys in elementary school showed that students with Black male teachers were 29% less likely than those without one, and 39% more for those who are very poor.
According the Department of Educationspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>, only 2 percent of teachers in the nation are Black men. Minnesota has 0.5% Black male teachers.
After protests by the Minneapolis Public Schools district, there will be a new district policy that will go into effect next spring. It exempts teachers of “underrepresented populations” (those who are not senior citizens) from seniority rules during layoffs.
Minneapolis property owner, Judicial Watch, filed a lawsuit claiming that the policy protecting teachers from being laid off in the city’s school districts discriminates against white teachers. Judicial Watch, a national conservative interest group supports the suit.
There is a shortage in Minnesota of Black teachers compared to the number of school-age Black children. According to Markus Flynn (director of Black Men Teach), approximately 70% of students in Minneapolis and St. Paul are of color. However, 17% of teachers work in the public schools. Other metro areas reflect similar numbers. Flynn hopes to make that a reality.
Box Top’s efforts at decreasing the disparity
General Mills’ Box Tops for Education initiative gives $20,000 to five Minnesota teachers. They can use the money towards student loan debt or, if they have less, as a retention bonus.
They (Box Tops for Education), were interested in showing their support for racial equality in the Twin Cities. Flynn stated that they believed they saw us as a group with mutual interests and felt they could support us in the launch of our initiatives.
Black Men Teach partners with schools in the Twin Cities as well as schools outside of the metro area to increase the number Black male teachers in their schools. It currently has approximately 15 men in its high-school fellowship and 30 in its college fellowship. Within six years, the goal is to have 20% of the teaching staff at eight partner schools be Black men.
Cannon is a sixth grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary. Black Men Teach helped him to finish his master’s degree.
His teachers used to call him the “kid with behavioral problems”.
Cannon stated that span style=”font weight: 400 Imagine being a little Black child in a sea of white children and not getting called on when your hand is raised but getting caught each time you do something wrong.” “I was not the most well-behaved child, but this was a learned behavior. I wanted to get the attention my white peers got and that I wasn’t getting from my teachers.
He said that having more Black teachers, particularly Black men, would have helped to create a sense of understanding and lessen the pervasiveness, he later learned, of racism. Cannon stated that there are many forms of racism still present at the school to this day. Cannon pointed out the Instagram account “Black at Breck school,” which highlights such incidents.
He tries to prevent this from happening to his students as a teacher.
73% of students in the Hopkins School District attend Eisenhower Elementary.
Black Men Teach at Work
Cannon was informed about Black Men Teach’s opportunity to earn his master’s degree. He was also awarded a scholarship each semester to help pay for the program.
Cannon stated that it was a tremendous, huge, and huge help to him in being able even consider doing the program.
Many have chosen to teach despite it not being very lucrative due to the financial support that Black Men Teach provides.
Cannon stated that if he hadn’t known about Black Men Teach, he wouldn’t have been able to forgive his loan.
There are three fellowships available: a teaching, college, and high school fellowship. This organization partners with schools to recruit Black men to the education pathway program. It offers high school and college credit to students.
The college fellowship is focused on financial support. The teaching fellowship places the men in different schools, particularly schools that have a climate and culture conducive to the retention of Black teachers.
span style=”font weight: 400 The number one challenge I have in my company is not raising money. It’s finding men who are interested in elementary school. This is what most people think it is. Flynn stated that it’s really about finding a school building that is open and willing to accept these men.
Keondre Lewis was in the third year of his Mankato State University junior year when he discovered Black Men Teach. Flynn and the organization helped Lewis become a student teacher at North Park School for Innovation, Columbia Heights Public School District. This led him to where he now is. He isn’t the only one.
Lewis stated that the organization focuses on Black men working in places where Black men are, creating support systems for schools.
It allows you to be heard even if you come from a different background. He said that being the only Black male in a predominantly white school can make it difficult for you to think from a Black perspective. It can be difficult and cause burnout span>
Lewis is starting his first year as a teacher in September. He is currently teaching second grade in the exact same district where he was a student.
Why should we increase?
Lewis was a poor student because he had no diverse teachers growing up. This had an impact on his life for the rest of his life.
span style=”font weight: 400 I looked back at my education, growing up in a multicultural community. I was struggling and didn’t see any teachers who looked like me or my peers. Lewis stated that this was a major reason why he went into education.
Lewis and Cannon both feel that teachers who look like you make a huge difference. The data backs this feeling up.
Flynn stated that students need to see people who look just like them, especially in the beginning. Flynn stated that elementary education is our primary focus, and not K-12. It is crucial to have those people in your life early, who can help you develop a love for learning and a passion for school, and who can support you and help build a positive, racial identity, especially in Minnesota, where there are so many disparities.