It’s no secret that the field of education has been historically dominated by women. While they have always excelled at the profession, there has been a major shift in the paradigm.
Lately, education experts have been calling for the presence of men. And with respect to Prince George's County, that means many more black men.
Usually, I’m only one of a handful of black men inside of a school building. I currently teach at Possibility Prep, an all boys’ charter school in Upper Marlboro with a 98 percent African-American male population. However, there are only five Black male educators there.
While qualified black men in the classroom are not the sole answer to the problems in our schools, they can definitely help close the achievement gap, provide a positive perception for youth and help create a sense of balance in the school building. But how can the county school system recruit and retain more black men?
First, teacher pay must increase. Service is extremely important, but black men need to support their families. Most men I know in education have obtained advanced degrees, but still make much less than men with entry level positions in business or technology.
In order to get and keep men in the building, there has to be a financial push for men to want to take jobs in the classroom. If pay increases are impossible, men can be given academic scholarships, reduced-price housing or loan forgiveness. If these incentives are offered to black men, then many will begin to accept and assume the responsibility to care for and lead a new generation of children.
Education programs and nonprofits can begin to train teachers at a younger age. There are plenty of vocational programs in high schools such as barbering, plumbing, and mechanics. Why not begin vocational programs that train black men to become educators? From an early age, they can value the field and consider a teaching career. This can help drive substantial educational reform and usher young people into the education debate.
Many people believe that Barack Obama has increased the vision and expectations of youth around the globe. Our local black men can do the same thing. The major difference, however, is that our youth will be able to reach out and study the lives of our local leaders. With the proper training and proper mission, black men can help to revolutionize the educational arena.