According to jbhe.com, Julius Davis, an associate professor and mathematics education researcher at Bowie State University, has been selected for the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship by the University System of Maryland.
The award will provide him with a grant to establish a Center for Research and Mentoring of Black Male Students and Teachers.
“It’s humbling and an honor to receive such an award. It feels great to know that the University System of Maryland thought that it was worth the investment to create a center for research and mentoring of Black male students and teachers at a historically Black university,” said Dr. Davis. “It’s great to be on the cutting-edge by trying to create a center focused on Black male students and teachers. We’ll be creating it from the foundation up.”
The center’s main goal is to support a pipeline of Black males joining the ranks of Maryland’s educators, especially those who specialize in teaching high-demand fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Dr. Davis plans to recruit 25 to 50 local students to participate in the center’s workshops, mentoring programs, and field trips throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
Efforts are underway to recruit more teachers of color, and one such successful initiative is in New York. NYC Men Teach was started two years ago under Mayor Bill de Blasio; the program is part of the mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
NYC Men Teach, a three-year pipeline program, has a goal of recruiting 1,000 men of color into the teaching profession. Two years into the program, it has already recruited 900 men.
Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, under whose purview YMI falls, said that the program is a priority because of the administration’s commitment to equity. “This is a critically important issue,” Buery stated. “We’re in a crisis in terms of diversity in our nation’s teaching force. The real question is, why aren’t men of color entering the teaching profession and why aren’t they staying there?”
In New York, students of color make up a majority of the city’s public school students; more than 43% are boys of color. Yet only 8.3% of its teachers are black, Latino, or Asian men.
This matters because research shows that, especially for low-income black boys, having a black teacher significantly lowers—by 39%—the likelihood that they will drop out of high school. Interestingly, other studies have suggested all students prefer teachers of color.
It’s also worrisome, Buery pointed out, that 85% of white students in New York State attend a school without a black or Latino principal or assistant principal. Those kids are going to school seeing “no model of black or Latino leadership or authority in the building,” Buery said.
But to get them in the building requires getting over hurdles that can be barriers to entering the profession. “In talking to the teachers, we’ve learned that many men of color have not had positive school experiences themselves,” Buery told me. “That can have an impact on their willingness to pursue a teaching career.”
Anecdotally, Buery is getting positive feedback about NYC Men Teach. The recruited men are being retained and finding support. It’s too early for quantitative results—and some results won’t be apparent for years, not until today’s students are faring well in college.
But in the end, it’s not just about academics, Buery said. “It’s about citizenship and leadership. It’s about having people see a vision of the world where people of all races lead and guide. We need our schools to look like the world we’re trying to create.”