Despite students of color making up half of the public school population, the breakdown for teachers of color is growing at a much smaller pace, especially for black men who make up less 2% of the nation’s elementary teaching force.
For years, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has talked about the need to recruit more African American male teachers, and it looks like a program at South Carolina’s Clemson University is on a mission to do just that.
This summer, a group of young men will meet on Clemson’s campus for the Call Me Mister program that is put in place to train and support black men who want to become teachers. With a goal to not only diversify the nation’s teaching population, but to also increase the number of positive role models for young black boys, Call Me Mister offers several avenues of support for program participants including student loan forgiveness, job placement, and lessons on classroom management and instructional techniques.
Working with a network of two-year and four-year colleges, the program recruits black men who will not only be positive influences on the young boys they encounter in the classroom, but they can also relate to some of the issues the students may face in their personal life.
“I actually can relate to a lot of kids because my father was locked up. I remember seeing him beat my mom, and I’ve seen a lot I shouldn’t have seen,” 21-year-old program participant Marshall Wingate tells NPR.
Thus far, Call Me Mister has trained and placed 152 black male teachers in eight states, with 150 more black men in the pipeline.