Dear BI Career Consultants:

Dear BI Career Consultants:
What can be done to get more young Black males to pursue careers in education?

Dr. Eric Abercrumbie,
Director, Ethnic Programs and Services,
African American Cultural and Research Center
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio

One of the major issues that confronts the Black community is the lack of Black males who pursue careers in education, especially at the elementary and secondary education levels. Many individuals believe that knowledge is power.
It is imperative that more Black males be encouraged to become teachers, counselors and/or administrators. Therefore, I would like to propose that Black Issues In Higher Education sponsor a national summit and/or a video conference on education concerning Black males interested in pursuing careers in education and to continue exploring strategies to get more Black males to become professional educators.
Black males who represent many different areas of education and young Black males interested in issues in education should be invited to this think tank. As a result of this summit, a network should be set up which presents a directory of Black males who will serve as resources for other brothers interested in pursuing careers in education. In addition, information needs to be provided concerning the perks that result in becoming an educator. Many myths need to be dispelled concerning the negatives of pursuing careers in education, especially the one that states that there is “no money in education.”
Many educators experience a more lucrative career than engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. Additional scholarships and fellowships must be established by the Black community — Black churches, fraternities and sororities — that specifically are earmarked to assist Black males who are interested in pursuing careers in education. Older Black male professionals who have retired should consider being retrained to become professional educators.
We must teach our community to think about the long-term advantages of pursuing a career in education and most of all the fact that so many of our young people need to be exposed to the creative intelligence, God-given wisdom, charismatic energy and genuine caring of Black men. 


Dr. Annie M. Wells,
Professor of psychology, 
Alabama A&M University
Director of the Alabama Center for Teaching and Learning

Before addressing the state of affairs for Afro-American men in education, one needs to understand that in general, the percentage of men planning a career in teaching has been declining for several years. The media has reported that less than 2 percent of the nation’s nearly 3 million K-12 teachers are Afro-American males.
Cultural and family dynamics have also contributed to the low percentage and disinterest of Afro-American males to careers in education.
In an article which I wrote some time ago, the point was made that historically, Afro-American families struggled to send their daughters to college to become teachers, which was the only career they could obtain then. They did not do the same for their sons reasoning that they could make it in life as a farmer, a logger or other labor-type job, which required little or no formal education.
Money is another reason many parents encourage their sons to become doctors or lawyers. Young Afro-American males are interested in playing professional sports, being in the movies or in music because persons in those areas make a lot of money compared to most persons in education.
Schools, universities and society at large are sending the wrong message to youth, especially Afro-American males. The number of athletic scholarships is significantly greater than those for academic subjects, and professional athletes are paid millions of dollars making it no contest in attracting young men to professional careers that are low-paying by comparison.
There is a notion that women are needed at the primary level to play a mothering role to young children, but ideally, young children need to see both a fathering and mothering role in the schools.
What can be done to attract more Afro-American males to the field of education short of special schools or special programs? If this was not discriminatory or controversial, it would produce a cadre of Afro-American male educators.
We need well-qualified males and females at all levels and areas of education and of all races. When educators are paid well, the field will attract genuinely interested people regardless of race and ethnicity.

— Compiled by Joan Morgan



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