Growing up as a young Black boy in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, I was lucky to see myself represented in my teachers. Two of my most influential teachers were Black men: my band directors in 7th grade and through high school. Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Hollins set high expectations and challenged my peers and me inside and outside of our classroom. I credit them both for inspiring me to become a music teacher myself.
But my experience is rare. Only 2% of our nation's public school educators are Black men. Research has found that when Black students have even just one Black educator in grade school, they are more likely to graduate high school and have fewer expulsions and suspensions.
It's critical to recruit more Black educators into the teaching force to better serve student populations, which is why Stand for Children has signed on to this letter asking the Biden administration to prioritize teacher diversity as part of the plan to build back schools following the pandemic. Will you add your signature?
Today, as an educator myself, I’d like to think that I can have a meaningful impact in the lives of my students — especially those who look like me and those for whom I am their only dependable source of guidance, support, and care.
I want students in every school to have the same access to strong and positive Black male role models who can offer the leadership and direction students might lack in other areas of their lives. I want my students to know they can one day make a meaningful impact in the lives of others as an educator.
Every student deserves to see themselves represented in their classroom by a role model they can trust, and we must continue to fight to make this a reality for all our students.