Reaching Black Boys: Teachers
Searching for role models
Research shows that black men can be powerful classroom role models for black boys, but principals
come up short when looking for candidates
By John Myers says new research suggests that boys
FEWER BLACK MALES TEACHING are falling behind early in their
Research suggests African-American boys benefit from having mentors with similar ne in four CPS students is schooling, since elementary schools
backgrounds, but in CPS, the opportunities for such mentoring are shrinking as the an African-American boy, tend to reward conformity and qui-
percentage of black but just one in 16 teachers eter personalities, qualities that girls
male teachers steadily PERCENTAGE OF BLACK MALE TEACHERS IN CPS BY YEAR is an African-American are more likely to exhibit.
declines. Nationally, man. And the percentage of black “Men are more likely to under-
15 High schools Elementaries
black men comprise 12.1% male teachers is on a downward stand the need boys have to be out-
about 2 percent of spiral, creating a teaching gap spoken or their need to move
the K-12 teaching 10 despite evidence that African- around,” Lynn explains.
force, while 15 9.8%
American boys benefit from the Black boys may also need to see
percent of students 4.7%
5 presence of male role models with more examples of successful pro-
are black. Nearly half similar backgrounds. fessionals who look like them. As
of CPS students are
0 “We know that to really teach Eric Carlton, president of Banner
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 black kids, we need some black Schools, an alternative schools
teachers,” says Marvin Lynn, an group in Chicago, puts it: “With
Note: Data for 2008 could not be obtained.
Source: CPS Department of Human Resources expert on minority teachers and an African-American males, there are
associate professor at the Universi- not enough positive role models
ty of Illinois at Chicago. Some that say school is the place to be.
TEACHERS FOR TROUBLED SCHOOLS
research, he adds, has established a There are not enough opportuni-
Judging by the data, principals at schools that struggle the most to raise the clear link between higher test ties for black boys to look in the
performance of black boys are seeking out black men to teach. And black men are
scores and students and teachers mirror and say ‘I like who I see, and
far more likely to be teaching in predominantly black schools.
sharing gender and race. I like who I am.’”
HIGH-SUSPENSION SCHOOLS “Teaching really is about relation- Lynn believes this larger issue
Percent of black male teachers in ...
ships, caring,” Lynn adds. “It’s about may play a central role in the short-
Schools with suspension rates for black boys that are ... Elementaries High Schools communicating in healthy ways age of black male teachers: Black
Below the city average (less than 24 percent) 3.4% 8.6% with students. And it’s also about boys end up bypassing an educa-
Above the city average (24 percent or more) 5.2% 10.0% content knowledge. But knowledge tion career because they do not see
in the absence of all the other things enough black men in the class-
is not going to be effective.” room. He and others—including
STRUGGLING SCHOOLS In communi