A tradition for many schools that educate predominately Black children involves welcoming the children back with scores of Black men cheering them on as they enter the building to start the school year.
Respect their knowledge, and honor who they are and what they mean to all students.
It’s not enough to ask Black men to simply welcome and encourage Black children when only 2% of teachers nationwide are Black men. Our children deserve more than a one-trick pony at the beginning of the year.
To suburban school leaders: You aren’t off the hook because you may not solicit the services of Black men to welcome your students back, or because your school is not heavily populated by Black students. You need more Black teachers too.
When you put those invitation flyers together this year, request that the Black men in your community join the school for an assembly where you will honor them for their contribution to the lives of the children you serve, and for their contribution to the community. Following the assembly, bring the men to a classroom filled with refreshments and district leaders to discuss with those men how to become teachers.
Tell them why you believe they can have a positive impact on the school and show them the research.
Tell them you don’t want them for only one day at the beginning of the year and you want to see them more than on parent-teacher conference days.
Tell them you want to see them every day.
Ask them what they wish for their children’s education and let them know how they can make that wish to come true…literally.
You won’t convince every man in attendance to become a teacher, but don’t let that stop you. If you can change the mind of one man that day, you’ve started something great. The bottom line is that the number of Black male educators won’t increase unless school and district leadership take the initiative to turn every opportunity into a recruiting opportunity.
Have you opened your doors to the community for an info session on how to become a teacher?
Have you partnered with community stakeholders to recruit Black men and women to work in your school?
Have you partnered with an HBCU to provide you with candidates to interview?
You must use the kind of vision that requires you to see the best of what students can be when looking at these men you call on to encourage your students. They can be much more than cheerleaders on the sideline.
Put them in the game.
Photo courtesy of The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice.
Rann Miller is a director of a federally funded after-school and summer program in southern New Jersey. He spent six years teaching in charter schools in Camden, New Jersey. Rann is the creator, writer and editor of the
Official Urban Education Mixtape Blog. His writing on race and urban education has appeared in