More Black Male Educators May Not Result In A Major Performance Boost For Black Male Students. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

More Black Male Educators May Not Result In A Major Performance Boost For Black Male Students.

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( Maybe it is due to age or experience gleaned from spending so many years studying the black male experience in American school districts. Regardless of its genesis, I can attest to being tired of half-truths transported via inept analysis that does little to impact the lagging academic performance of black males in U.S. school districts.

The most recent trend is a desperate effort to place black male teachers in front of this lagging population. I am unsure if I should laugh or cry at this latest tactic to uplift black males. One the one hand, we intuitively realize that the potential for a special bond between black male students and black male teachers is palpable, however, such enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that the available tools will invariably handcuff black male teachers as they have other educators. Put simply; it appears as if today’s educational leaders believe that black male teachers have some “old Negro magic, a charm or something” that will allow them to achieve in areas where others have failed.

If nothing else, the pursuit of black male educators is a partial admission from opponents that “Black Male Teachers Matter.”

Anyone who has spoken to me about such matters understands that I am fully in the camp of Jawanza Kunjufu in believing that it matters mightily who is standing at the front of the classroom.

Although I am experienced enough to realize that the forging of bonds between students and educators are not always curtailed by Race constructs, it is foolish to believe that oftentimes there is a special bond between black educators and black children. The alluded to bond could emanate from a host of locations, however, the most predictable is found in the fact that black educators have lived through the same hellish nightmares that their students are currently facing. Black educators are “mandated” to prepare the latest generation of Black America regarding the trials-and-tribulations that await them. Often omitted in discussions regarding why Black teachers do what they do is that no one other than Black educators realizes how traumatic the American educational process is on black children.

Any African-American student who has been mentored by a Black educator can attest to the fact that the bond between student and mentor extends beyond the classroom and invariably becomes hopelessly entangled.

This desperate pursuit of school districts to find black male teachers is a definite reversal to prior arguments that questioned the difference-making abilities of black educators. I am confident that I am not alone in being surprised that educational leaders are conceding the point that black males are best served by black male educators. The rugged path to conceding this point has been an arduous one strewn with student failures and startling brutality between black male students and those assigned the arduous task of educating them.

When one considers the present state of many urban school districts, there is little evidence that contradicts the contention that the current school system has failed black children. Consider for a moment that educational studies repeatedly show that in regards to academics, black boys begin to lag behind their peers by the third-grade; unfortunately for Black America, these boys never close the achievement gap.

For anyone interested in saving black boys, this decade’s long pattern of black males lagging behind their peers raises many questions, yet few plausible solutions have been offered.

Educational leaders desperation is displayed via a general solution to this dour dilemma. Their solution is to begin and support initiatives aimed at increasing the percentage of black male teachers. Of course, the basic logic behind these efforts is that if anyone can reach black boys, it is black men. I offer tacit support for this initiative.

While it stands to reason that I would offer unconditional support for such initiatives, truthfully, I  reserve such support. Experience has taught me that although black male educators matter; they are not a brigade capable of solving this systemic issue.

My most significant fear regarding this latest “solution” is that the introduction of black male educators into an already broken educational system will have a negligible impact on poor performing black male students; in fact, it may serve as future fodder for those who advance daunting arguments that it is the intellectual feebleness of black males that stands at the center of this decades-old problem.

Although I agree with Jawanza Kunjufu’s assertion that it matters mightily who is standing at the front of the classroom, I also realize how stifling the American educational experience is for teachers who must follow a set curriculum aimed at preparing students for “end of the road standardized tests.”

From my perch as an African-American Studies Professor who has helped build hundreds of black teachers, the most daunting and harsh reality that I rarely discuss with my young charges is that much of the content that they are learning in riveting classroom discussions ranging from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart through Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Era of Jim Crow will be missing from the script that they will receive from future employers. Hopefully, this brings into focus why I feel so strongly that the employment of black male educators will prove insufficient to cause a major impact on a non-reflective school curriculum. Most educational leaders refuse to accept the reality that as long as black male students are being force-fed a curriculum created by whites absent any understanding of the issues, needs, and worldview of black males, positive change is an impossibility.

Several decades of teaching has provided interesting insight into why black males are disinterested in educational endeavors by the time they disengage from the public school system. Make no mistake about it, after the K-12 educational experience, the minds of many black students are in a stage of atrophy. The cause of this unfortunate situation is a white-washed and disinteresting curriculum that impresses on black students an unmistakable perception that the cost of success in America is the denial of black identity and adoption of a white worldview that harbors no concern with neither their cultural identity nor mental health.

Make no mistake about it, American society demands that black students adopt a worldview that opposes the communalism that has helped blacks “make a way out of no way.” For non-threatening blacks capable of reorienting themselves into a faux ‘whiteness,’ tangible rewards and prestige await, while non-conforming blacks find themselves marginalized at every turn.

When one considers that the vast majority of black males will blatantly refuse to assume the persona of a “white man,” the consequences are colossal. The previously discussed non-reflective school curriculum not only serves as the foremost obstacle to black male academic success but also in many ways pre-determines that this latest fad of creating black male teachers is destined for failure. Trust me when I say that without a relevant curriculum, it makes little difference the race/ethnicity or gender of the “educator” teaching what amounts to white-washed U.S. History script. School administrators should have learned long ago that black educators teaching a white-washed script to black children makes them little more than modern-day minstrel’s performing in front of a disinterested audience of black students.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.


2 Responses to “More Black Male Educators May Not Result In A Major Performance Boost For Black Male Students.”
  1. Arthur says:

    The author presents a well thought out position, and he argues it with passion and commitment to the community. I deeply respect him for that. But I must disagree.

    Some of our greatest movers and shakers graduated from Morehouse with its wealth of Black male teachers. And many when Morehouse, in many respects, was presenting a largely whitewashed curriculum. Nonetheless, they went on to accomplish much for all of us.

  2. Pelvo White, Jr. says:

    Knowledge ( epistemology ) doesn’t have a race, creed, or color. Knowledge is simply knowledge. It matters not what color your teacher is, what matters is that you learn the knowledge being taught. The duty of a teacher is to teach. The duty of a student is to learn. The black male, if properly educated, can teach just as well as any white male. If this was not true, there wouldn’t be any white males from Europe and America studying the ruins of Egypt, Africa with hopes of gaining even more knowledge about the nexus of the microscopic and macroscopic worlds. I haven’t discerned any difference between the teaching pedagogy of the ancients ( teaching from conceptual theories ) which was multi-racial, and that of the contemporary world. A certain pedagogy gives rise to a curriculum and curriculum gives rise to a lesson plan, and a teacher follows a conceptualized lesson plan when dispensing knowledge.

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