The solution to solving the education-related problems of black male K-12 students in the inner-city seems simple: Hire more black men as teachers.
However, in the classrooms of urban public schools across America, black men are noticeably absent from the position of teacher. It’s very rare to see a black man who is a product of the same community where black children are growing up teaching in today’s classrooms.
Christopher Emdin (pictured) is a black man who works as an educator at Teachers College and Columbia University. Emdin is also the author of a book called “For White Folk Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education.”
The New York Times published an article over the weekend, which was written by Emdin titled “Why Black Men Quit Teaching.” In his honest and informative editorial for The Times, Emdin shares what he feels are the main reasons why black men are not signing up in big numbers to be public school teachers nowadays.
“Black male educators I work with have described their primary job as keeping black students passive and quiet, and suspending them when they commit infractions,” Emdin wrote. “In this model, they are robbed of the opportunity to teach, while black male students are robbed of opportunities to learn,” he continued.
Emdin’s position makes a lot of sense because black men who are products of the same community their black male students come from see no point in going along with the system that is prescribed for educating children today. Teaching is not all about implementing a standardized process of providing discipline and curriculum.
It’s about relating to students in a way they can identify with. However, there are unwritten rules that discourage this kind of interaction with black boys. Teachers also find themselves dealing with a high level of systemic barriers, which qualified black men with education backgrounds are reluctant to subject themselves to.