Solving The Crisis Of The Disappearing African-American Male Educator.

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( There are pivotal moments that serve as “forks in the road” in all of our lives. One of my most pivotal moments flowed from a conversation that I had with my dear mother regarding how I could make the best use of this never-ending gift of life. Moments after I asked my mother what did I owe my ancestors who made many untold sacrifices, she smiled and without hesitation remarked, “your life.”

Those words instantly imprinted on my soul. That moment marks the beginning of a still-evolving quest of living my life to honor the ancestors mentioned above.

Although it took years for me to realize the undeniable fact that God created me to be an educator, in hindsight it is evident that the signposts were always apparent. When I reconstruct my life, it is evident that there is not a moment that it was not heavily influenced by some educator that I revered enough to consider the example they placed in front of me as a North Star that would guide me to the destination of “living a life worth living.” Outside of my parents and grandparents, there was no more impactful figure in my development than my teachers.

The educators that I was blessed to learn from supplemented much of what my parents exposed me to. I existed in a bubble filled with ideas, life lessons of what to do and what to avoid, and room to explore the world due to my association with a cadre of black educators who poured all that they knew into me. Mr. Roberson, my seventh-grade teacher, expanded my worldview by taking me to Washington, D.C. Mrs. Jones, my sixth-grade teacher, not only told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to college but also displayed a dogged determination to drag me to that destination ‘by any means necessary.’ Dr. Paulette Pierce, one of my Black Studies Professors at The Ohio State University, was the first of many mentors to tell me that if I so desired that I had the charisma, intelligence, and work ethic to become a Professor. Trust me when I say that this space is not expansive enough for me to thank all of the educators who guided, encouraged, challenged, threatened, and mentored me to mold me into the individual I am at the present moment.

It is my recognition of the inherent power that teachers possess that makes the refusal of so many of my students to enter the realm of education inexplicable. My students’ sadden me when they refuse to consider becoming a teacher capable of uplifting succeeding generations of Black America.

There is no more succinct display of the alluded to resistance than the disappearance of black men from the teaching profession. Most fail to realize that their refusal to teach ceases one of our most sacred traditions, the imparting of knowledge to succeeding generations. In fact, things have gotten so worrisome in regards to underachieving black students and the limited presence of black male teachers that school districts throughout the nation are making concerted efforts to recruit black men. Most school administrators now understand that there is a correlation between black boys’ academic success and the presence of black male teachers.

Indicative of such efforts is the state of Indiana’s attempt to diversify their teaching workforce via the Next Generation Hoosier Education Scholarship that provides participants $7,500 per year, an amount that covers the vast majority of costs at a state institution, in exchange for five years of teaching in the Hoosier state after graduation. Unfortunately, the initiative has met with limited success as only eleven black students entered the program last year. I am confident that Indiana education authorities could have never imagined that the programs second year would garner less interest as indicated by only five black participants entering the program.

Such matters make the concerns of Teresa Lubbers, the Chief of Indiana’s higher education programs, poignant. According to Lubbers, “As hard as it is to talk about these numbers, I’m actually grateful that we’re looking at them. We really are committed to trying to do more, but we could use help.” I am confident that Lubbers would never admit that Indiana’s efforts to bring more black teachers into the fold is a doomed proposition for an unexpected reason. Indiana is devoid of a single Historically Black College or University (H.B.C.U.). Despite the continual maligning that HBCU’s have experienced by whites, there is no doubt that the vast majority of black educators have some connection to a Historically Black College.

Education leaders’ failure to recognize this fact reveals a cavernous blind spot that communicates astounding ignorance regarding from whence black teachers arrived. Such ignorance foreshadows continuing frustration and failure for school administrators seeking to diversify their pool of teachers.

A cursory examination of the past century reveals that American education was a segregated institution whose operation mandated that HBCU’s produce black educators. Most are shocked to learn that before 1950 there was a nearly equal distribution of black male and black female teachers servicing students in this nation’s racially segregated schools. Unfortunately, this esteemed tradition was curtailed by what most black educators now consider a major misstep, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Educationdecision.

Although rarely discussed in public, the vast majority of blacks had significant issues with integrationist oriented Civil Rights leaders regarding the wisdom of sending black children to white schools to be educated by white educators. When one considers the well-documented trials-and-tribulations of many black students in today’s school systems, Malcolm X’s contention that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children” holds significant weight.

The historical record indicates that the foremost victims of school integration were black male teachers whose presence was forbidden by white powerbrokers whose guilt regarding previous sexual escapades with unwilling black women led their efforts to bar all interaction between black male teachers and white female students. Black males had no other choice than to pursue other employment opportunities as becoming an educator was no longer viable. The tradition of black male teachers eventually withered away.

Alas, all is not lost.

The hostile climate of racial discord that is rapidly increasing during the Trump Presidency has served as a boon for many HBCU’s as their enrollment is at an unprecedented high. It is this steady escalation of enrollment that provides some hope that HBCU’s could lead the charge to diversify the pool of available educators across the nation.

As always, it is imperative that Black America strikes while the iron is hot and begin to create educators to serve as mentors and educators for black youth. It is only through a proactive program of recruiting, mentoring and educating black males at HBCU’s regarding the merits of becoming an educator that there is a little opportunity for success. It is crucial that Black America focuses a significant portion of its energies toward the creation of a new generation of black teachers as they are not only a stabilizing force within their respective community but also the only tool capable of molding the future of Black America. If I permitted, I would advise all school districts interested in diversify their teacher pool to dedicate their resources to HBCU’s as that is where black collegians are flocking.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Official website;

One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.