Teachers and Teaching for the New Millennium: The Role of HBCUs

Article excerpt

This article presents a framework for a discussion of the role of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that focuses on teachers and teaching for the new millennium. HBCUs have the potential to make a significant difference in solving one of the most intractable problems in K-12 education: how to recruit, retain, and develop teachers for high-need schools. HBCUs are uniquely qualified to address the challenge of high-need schools. If HBCUs' colleges of education are to continue their mission of educating teachers for high-need schools, significant financial resources and other support mechanisms should be available to them. The final segment of the article contains policy recommendations.

Keywords: teachers, teacher education, HBCU, diversity

The majority of HBCUS were established in the mid to late 1800s as pre-collegiate schools for newly freed slaves and normal schools for training teachers. These institutions continue to provide exceptional higher educational opportunities for African Americans in many disciplines and their success is weU documented. According to Baskerville, Berger, and Smim (2008), although HBCUs represent only 4% of aU U.S. coUeges and universities, mey enroU approximately 16% of aU African Americans in 4-year institutions, and mey graduate nearly 30% of African Americans earning bachelor's degrees, particularly in critical areas like die sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Additionally, according to a 2006 National Science Foundation report, from 19951999 almost a third of African American doctoral recipients reported receiving an undergraduate degree from an HBCU (Thurgood, GoUaday, & Hill, 2006), and the top eight institutions that produced African American science and engineering doctorates in 1997-2006 were HBCUs (BurrelU & Rapoport, 2008). These data on me accomplishments of HBCUs are even more impressive given mat their students are primarily low income - witìi 98% qualifying for federal need-based aid (Gasman, 2008). AdditionaUy, HBCUs operate with fewer resources with tuition rates usually 50% lower man of White coUeges and universities (Gasman, 2009) and endowments mat are 91% less than all other mstitutions (Merisotis & McCarthy, 2005). These financial challenges, according to Merisotis and McCarthy, result in HBCUs' spending only 57% of what other schools spend on instruction, 63% on student services, and 49% on academic support functions.

Consistent with their historic mission, schools of education (SOEs) continue to have a dominant presence on HBCU campuses. SOEs at HBCUs have responded to the chaUenges of revising their curricula and programs for the new millennium witìi initiatives drat include advanced technology, innovative recruitment strategies (e.g., Troops-to-Teachers Program, Call Me Mister), alternative routes to teaching (e.g., Transition to Teaching), and national certification for experienced teachers of color (e.g., National Board for Professional Teaching Standard's Targeted High Need-Initiative). The Ready to Teach Program at Howard University is the second and current iteration of Transition to Teaching, which is funded by the U. S. Department of Education. The Ready to Teach Program at Howard University may emerge as a model for me recruitment, preparation, and placement of African American male teachers in high-need schools. The program is a coUaborative effort led by the Howard University School of Education in partnership with five urban school districts: Chicago, Illinois; Clayton County, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Prince Georges County, Maryland; and Washington, DC. The first cohort of participants completed an accelerated MAT program in spring 2009.

The impact of SOEs at HBCUs is indisputable. They graduate 50% of African American teachers with bachelor's degrees (National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, 2008). The United Negro College Fund reported that in 1998 more than half of all African American prospective teachers in Missouri, Maryland, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Delaware, Alabama, and the District of Columbia were trained at HBCUs (Freeman, 2001). …

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