LAST WORD; African American Male Teachers; Planning for the Future

Article excerpt

The lack of African American males in our schools has been well documented. This trend is perhaps most problematic in urban environments, where the challenge of reaching students has become more difficult for teachers who are often cultures and generations removed from their students. In a society where many women are single parents and positive male presence is lacking in the lives of some urban youth, the lack of male teachers as role models is even more profound.

Reasons for the lack of African American males in the teaching profession include:

the watered-down education that minority students receive in elementary and secondary schools;

strong competition from non-teaching professions that offer higher salaries and better status to top graduates;

the increase in testing requirements in many states, which effectively discourages some minority men (those adversely affected by tests) from pursuing teaching careers;

and the heavy reliance on loans in college financial aid packages.

Each of these factors can discourage African American males from pursuing postsecondary degrees and joining the ranks of the teaching profession. Yet, the presence of African American males in our classrooms is a significant factor in improving the educational outcomes for minority students, since these teachers can serve as important role models.

Some people in higher education are seeking to reverse the current trend. With help from the Council of Independent Colleges, Marygrove College -- an independent, Catholic, liberal arts college in Detroit -- has established an African American Male Initiative program known as the Marygrove "Griots. …