African American Male Teachers in Public Schools: An Examination of Three Urban School Districts


by Chance W. Lewis - 2006

Currently, African American students constitute approximately 20% of the public school population, while African American male teachers constitute 1% of the teaching force. In this article, the author presents the findings of a study that examined the disproportionate number of African American male teachers in America's K12 public schools. More specifically, the researcher surveyed 147 African American male teachers in three urban school districts in Louisiana to better understand what strategies school districts could implement to increase the presence of African American male teachers. The recommendations are presented in this article.

Over the past 20 years, a plethora of research in the field of education has critically examined the shortage of African American teachers in K-12 public schools (Irvine, 1988; National Education Association, 2001; Recruiting New Teachers, 2002), and alarmingly, the data reveal that African American male teachers are on the verge of extinction within the U.S. teaching profession (Greenlee, 1997). Current national data show that African American students constitute approximately 20% of the public school population, while African American male teachers constitute 1% of the teaching force (National Education Association).


To better understand teacher shortages in American public schools, it is important that education readers, administrators, and policy makers are aware of the pitfalls in the educational pipeline before recommending any interventions for improvement in the recruitment and retention of African American male teachers. More specifically, Gordon (2000) reported that the African American teacher shortages are prevalent because of economic, education, and social and cultural factors. The economic reasons were low pay, too much education for the return, and a wider range of career choices than previous generations of African Americans had. The educational reasons were associated with inadequate K-12 schooling, negative experiences in the school setting, and a lack of emotional and intellectual mentoring.

The social and cultural reasons were related to experiences of racism, lack of encouragement, and racelessness.


Aligned with the educational pipeline notion, Brown and Butty (1999) noted,


the number of African American males who go into teaching is influenced by the number of African American males who attend college, which in turn is influenced by the number of high school graduates and so on . . . unfortunately the pipeline that moves African American students from public school to public school teaching is a leaky one. (p. 282)


Across the country, school districts have placed a strong emphasis on recruiting and retaining African American males in the teaching profession (Williams, 2001). Most notable is the “Call Me Mister” collaborative project between Clemson University, Benedict College, Claflin College, Morris College, and Voorhees College. This project actively recruits, trains, certifies, and places African American male teachers in public school classrooms (Parks, 1998). These South Carolina institutions’ emphasis on recruiting African American males in the teaching profession reflected the need for attracting ethnic minorities to the field of education, particularly considering the changing student demographics, aging workforce, gender inequity, and high teacher attrition rates (Brown & Butty, 1999).


Over the years, school districts have tried different recruitment and retention strategies to attract African American males to teaching, such as forgiveness on student college loans, signing bonuses, and relocation benefits; however, many of these incentives have proved to be unsuccessful (Lewis, 2002). The representation of African American male teachers is not even close to the current need in many school districts across the nation (Brown & Butty, 1999). This is especially the case in rural and suburban districts. Irvine (1990) referred to this crisis in the field of education as the “disappearing black educator” (p. 37). Furthermore, Parks (1998) pointed out, “in America’s classrooms, the African American male as a teacher is a figure sadly missing” (p. 1). With so many African American students needing role models, the lack of African American male teachers is a growing epidemic that is expected to continue to plague the field of education (Lewis).


With the rapid changes in public schools, there are numerous reasons that school officials need to recruit and retain African American male teachers. First, African American male teachers tend to be firm disciplinarians who establish positive learning environments, with more time dedicated to teaching and learning (Kunjufu, 2002). Aligned with this notion, Delpit (1995) noted that there are three types of teachers: “(a) the Black teachers, none of whom were afraid of Black kids; (b) the White teachers, a few of whom are not afraid of Black kids; and (c) the largest group of White teachers, who are afraid of all Black kids” (p. 168). Second, research has indicated that test scores of African American students who spend at least 1 year with an African American teacher improve by 4 percentage points (Dee, 2001). This research also indicates the obvious benefits of role modeling and having African American teachers. Third, African American male teachers are role models for all students because they provide “real” illustrations that African American males can be more than athletes, entertainers, and inmates. This is especially important for African American students, given that most students want to be like those they see (Kunjufu, 1994). Given these findings, the purpose of this study was to review relevant literature examining African American males’ participation in teaching, to identify effective recruitment and retention strategies for African American male teachers, and to document what African American males deemed important for school district personnel to understand when attempting to recruit and retain African American males in teaching positions in the future.


THE TRENDS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES’ PARTICIPATION IN TEACHING


Historically, teaching in the African American community has been viewed as an honorable and noble profession. During the 1950s and 1960s, African American preservice teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs; Clem, 1986). In 1954, the year of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, approximately 82,000 African American teachers were responsible for the education of the nation’s 2 million African American public school students (Hawkins, 1994). After graduation, many of these African American male teachers went back to their respective communities to serve the many educational needs of the African American community. Clem noted that these African American male teachers served not only as teachers but also as counselors, role models, and spiritual leaders. In addition, during that time, African Americans were entering teacher preparation programs at HBCUs more than in any other time in U.S. history. Kunjufu (2002) noted that during the 1950s and 1960s, many of the best African American minds were denied opportunities of becoming engineers, accountants, computer programmers, and other professionals. This racism allowed African American students the opportunity to be educated by the best minds in the African American community. However, a decade after Brown, over 38,000 African American teachers and administrators had lost their positions in 17 southern and border states (Ethridge, 1979; Holmes, 1990). As a result, the magnitude of this job loss had a devastating effect on the African American community and also affected the academic achievement of African American students (Tillman, 2004).


From the 1970s to the present, the research literature clearly documents that the representation of African American male teachers is not keeping pace proportionally with the percentage of African American students in public schools across the United States (Foster & Peele, 1999; Irvine, 2002; Kunjufu, 2002). According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE; 1999), during the past 30 years, White teachers have constituted 70% of the public school teaching population. In the new millennium, African American students constitute 20% of the total student enrollment, while African American male teachers make up only 1% of the teaching force nationwide (National Education Association, 2001). Of all the males who enrolled in higher education in 1998, African American males represented only 4% of that population (Jackson, 2003). Given this total enrollment in higher education for African American males, attracting more African American males will be a major task facing the field of education.


One of the most prevailing themes in the research literature is that African American males are not entering the teaching profession because many other career opportunities are now available to them (Clem, 1986; Irvine, 1988; Wilder, 2000). Gordon (2000) interviewed current African American teachers to ascertain their thoughts on why more African American teachers are not pursuing the field of education. According to Gordon’s study, many of the African American students who are in college do not view teaching as an attractive or lucrative career choice. In addition, she found that African American teachers, male and female, did not pursue the field of teaching in part because of the low compensation offered by many school districts. Research by Jacullo-Noto (1991) indicated that low compensation may be one of the initial factors that push academically able African Americans from the field of education. Of the most academically able African American students (as indicated by standardized test scores) going to college, less than 1% have indicated an interest in education (Graham, 1987). The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (1999) indicated that in 1995, African Americans earned only half as many bachelor’s degrees in education than in 1985. According to the American Federation of Teachers (2000), African Americans constitute only 5% of education students in teacher preparation programs across the United States. Given Gordon’s research and economic factors associated with the field of teaching, she suggested that many potential African American teachers will be lost to other fields based merely on the compensation being offered.


In addition, in alignment with Gordon’s (2000) research, the education literature has documented that African Americans in general, and African American males in particular, face many educational obstacles that keep them from pursuing a career in teaching. Since the 1980s, the push for greater standards led to the adoption of standardized tests for teachers, such as the National Teachers Exam (NTE), commonly known as the PRAXIS I and II. Many states now require these tests for teacher certification. According to Jacullo-Noto (1991), a review of individuals who fail these standardized examinations showed that a disproportionate number of such individuals are African Americans, but more specifically, African American males. As a response to students’ failure of the NTE, some states (e.g., Louisiana, Colorado, and Georgia) have required that universities with teacher preparation programs produce a certain percentage of students who pass the standardized tests in order to maintain their teacher education programs. As a result, many HBCUs have been in danger of losing their teacher preparation programs because many of their students are not passing the required standardized tests for entrance into the teaching profession. For example, Southern University—Baton Rouge (HBCU) was threatened with closure of its teacher preparation program because many students were not passing the standardized test at the required 80% passage rate (Dyer, 2003). With the teacher preparation program in jeopardy, the Southern University—Baton Rouge teacher education students responded with a 97% passage rate; however, many teacher programs that prepare African American teachers are being watched closely by various stakeholders (e.g., state education departments and national accrediting agencies).


Gordon (2000) also noted that a number of prospective African American male teachers face social and cultural impediments en route to the teaching profession. These social and cultural impediments can take various forms, such as poor academic preparation in secondary schools and difficulty in the social and cultural adjustments to college life. Loo and Rolinson (1986) documented that “academic alienation of African American male students was due to ‘poor academic preparation’ in high school and the ‘culture shock’ of encountering a culture distinctively different than their own” (p. 72). Jacullo-Noto (1991) noted that cross-cultural research suggests that the culture and cognitive styles of African American students in general, and African American males in particular, differ from those with mainstream nonminorities. Aligned with this notion, Anderson (1988) reported that many colleges and universities do not have the necessary structured programs in place to affirm the value of cultural diversity schoolwide, especially within teacher education programs. These sociocultural disconnections have hindered some African American males from matriculating in teacher education programs.


In short, in reviewing the literature on the trends of African American males participation in teaching, three general themes emerged: (a) low compensation offered to teachers; (b) educational obstacles, such as the NTE or PRAXIS; and (c) social and cultural impediments (e.g., culture shock at the university level). To increase the presence of African American males among the teaching ranks, the compensation being offered must become more attractive to encourage African American males to consider the field of education. Second, to overcome the education obstacles such as the NTE, teacher education programs need to set as a priority test-taking skills seminars and classes to help African American males improve their chances of passing the NTE. For example, the “Call Me Mister” program referenced earlier in this article requires African American male preservice teachers to attend seminars specifically focused on test-taking strategies to increase their chances of passing the required standardized tests (Owens, Parks, Green, & Weatherford, 2001). Finally, teacher education programs need to make their cultures on campus and within classes more “welcoming” for African American teacher candidates to increase their chances of becoming certified or licensed teachers. This is especially important because African American teacher education students tend to feel like outsiders and often struggle to maintain their own racial identity within their university classrooms (Garret, 1998).


STRATEGIES FOR RECRUITING AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE TEACHERS


Gursky, Rose, and Moss (2004) reported that today’s students could easily go 12 years in the K-12 educational system without ever seeing an African American, specifically an African American male teacher. To alleviate this educational predicament, many universities and school districts around the country are considering recruitment strategies grounded in Jacullo-Noto’s (1991) research examining nationwide efforts to increase the presence of African American male teachers and other minority teachers of color in the nation’s teaching workforce.


COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNITY


For teacher education programs and K-12 school districts to increase the African American male presence in the teaching profession, more efforts to involve the community outside of education should be explored. The Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) could be valuable resources to identify potential African American male candidates for the teaching profession (Jacullo-Noto, 1991). Another valuable resource is the 100 Black Men of America, a community organization designed to improve the quality of life for African American males by providing mentoring and educational programs. These organizations can formulate partnerships with African American males in teacher preparation programs and provide individual mentoring and financial support for students pursuing teaching as a career. By doing so, African American male students will be matched with successful African American male adults to increase the likelihood of the students being successful in their quests to become teachers.


FACULTY MENTOR


The research literature has documented other recommendations made to teacher education programs to attract capable African American students. Loo and Rolinson (1986) noted the importance of having an African American faculty member or other ethnic minority faculty member on staff to serve as a mentor to aid in the success of those completing their teacher education programs. Lewis, Ginsberg, Davies, and Smith (2004) noted that African American students tend to gravitate toward ethnic minority faculty to aid in their adjustment to the university environment. Therefore, diversity in the faculty ranks is especially important in aiding African American males in their teacher education programs. Additionally, the National Education Association (2001) reported that teacher preparation programs and school districts should begin to target their recruitment efforts on paraeducators, midcareer adults, recent graduates, and other African American males who have a passion for teaching.


REFINE ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS


Many African American males who have the potential of becoming excellent teachers are not admitted to many teacher programs because of their standardized test scores (i.e., ACT and SAT; Jacullo-Noto, 1991). For those teacher preparation programs that are serious about increasing the African American male presence in the teaching profession, it is critical that entrance requirements are reexamined. Alternative measures, such as past accomplishments (e.g., leadership activities in high school) and passion for teaching, should be considered in entrance requirements (Kunjufu, 2002; Spellman, 1988).


COLLEGE AND SCHOOL COLLABORATION


High schools and colleges need to work together to develop ongoing and systematic student recruitment programs that have a particular emphasis on attracting African Americans to teaching. According to Tice (1994), the goals of such programs might include developing interest among African American high school students in public education, helping African American high school students to become more knowledgeable about schools and teaching, developing and implementing a curriculum for a high school course on teaching and learning in our society, and facilitating a collaborative approach to teacher recruitment by colleges and public schools as a way of replenishing the profession.


ACADEMIC SUPPORT


To increase African American male presence in the teaching ranks, providing tutorial sessions is a viable option for helping the disproportionate number of African American students who are failing the NTE (i.e., PRAXIS I & II). Latham, Gritomer, and Ziomeck (1999) conducted a 3-year study during the 1995-1997 academic years. The researcher found that 82% of White candidates successfully passed the PRAXIS I, as opposed to 46% of the African American candidates. On the PRAXIS II, 91% of the White candidates passed, in comparison with 64% of the African American candidates. It is important that teacher education programs provide a better educational foundation for understanding content and improving test-taking skills toward increasing the success rate of African Americans, and African American males in particular. For example, teacher preparation programs should require test-taking seminars as a part of the curriculum. These seminars will provide African American students with pertinent strategies for taking the standardized tests and also be a forum in which students can take practice examinations before taking their actual tests. This will increase the likelihood of the African American students being successful on these high-stakes tests.


COLLABORATION WITH COMMUNITY COLLEGES


Jacullo-Noto (1991) offered other strategies that may increase African American male presence in the teaching ranks: collaboration between 2- and 4-year institutions and alternative types of certifications. The author further postulates that teacher education programs should seriously consider collaborating with 2-year institutions, because the largest pool of African Americans have found entrance into higher education through these schools (Lewis & Middleton, 2003). The core of academic courses needed to complete the teacher preparation program can be taken at the 2-year school. This will aid the African American male student because of the economic value of attending 2-year schools. In addition, the smaller class sizes and greater connections to the instructors have been found to increase their academic achievement (Lewis & Middleton).


ALTERNATIVE ROUTES TO CERTIFICATION


A final strategy that has been documented in the research literature that can increase African American male presence in the teaching ranks is alternative route certification. For African American males looking for a career change, alternative certifications provide opportunities for African American males who have rich “real-world” work experiences outside of education to pursue a career in teaching while working on their degrees at the same time.


STRATEGIES FOR RETAINING AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE TEACHERS


Over the past decade, the main efforts to diversify the teaching profession have been on recruitment, with very little attention given to the retention of existing African American male teachers (Kunjufu, 2002). Unfortunately, the retention strategies for retaining African American males and other teachers of color have basically remained unchanged since the 1980s. Nonetheless, this section of the study highlights retention strategies that have been used in various formats around the country.


Several factors are critical in the discussion of retaining African American male teachers. Over the past 10 years, education organizations (e.g., American Federation of Teachers, 2000; National Education Association, 2001; Recruiting New Teachers, 2002) have noted that African American male teachers who leave school districts are usually more talented and qualified—based on teaching evaluations and college grade point average—than those who choose to remain in teaching. However, to alleviate this pattern, it is important that school districts are proactive in finding lucrative teaching positions within the districts that will allow high-quality African American teachers to stay in the classroom. By providing these teachers with opportunities for upwardly mobile positions within the school district, the districts’ chances of retaining them are greatly increased (Cooper, 2000; Dupre, 1996). Without concerted efforts, the field of education is likely to continue to lose its African American male teachers to other professions.


As a means to retain qualified African American male teachers within the profession, Haberman (1989) recommended the following: “(a) provide a career ladder for African American male teachers who are currently working in school districts and (b) use support mechanisms, such as mentors, to support African American male teachers in the school district” (p. 126). Given the above retention strategies, the author also recommended the following as best practices for retaining African American male teachers:


1. Establish a strategic action plan designed to provide support services to increase the retention rates of African American male teachers.


2. Provide new African American male teachers with financial incentives to remain in the profession, such as financial support to continue education and forgiveness on student loans.


3. Monitor African American male teachers throughout their first 3 years and provide a mentor to help the teacher adjust to the demands of teaching.


By implementing these retention strategies, school districts will be in a better position to retain the African American male teachers who are currently employed in their school district.


METHODOLOGY


This study comprised a sample of 147 African American male teachers at three different school districts in the state of Louisiana who were within 3 years of teaching. These three school districts were selected because they employed approximately 5% of African American male teachers in years 1-3 in the state of Louisiana. Louisiana was a good benchmark to conduct this study because it provided one of the highest percentages of African American males in the teaching population as compared with other states (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). During the 2000-2002 academic years, the selected urban school districts hired 229 African American male teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. After receiving approval to conduct this research study in each school district, human resources personnel provided the researcher with a list of names and school addresses where the sample of African American male teachers were employed.


Because this research study incorporated a revised survey instrument from Garret (1998), it was necessary to establish content validity of the new instrument. A panel of five experts received a draft of the survey for review. These experts received a brief summary of the study, a description of the sample group to be surveyed, known limitations of the study, and the desired beneficial results of the study. These experts reviewed the content and construction of the survey and noted suggestions for the revision of the instrument. On the basis of their input, six modifications of the survey were made until collaborative agreement determined that it had obtained content validity.


To ensure reliability, the researcher conducted a pilot study to obtain feedback from teachers regarding design and readability of the survey. A convenience sample of 50 African American teachers from Louisiana was used to pilot the survey instrument. The convenience sample for the pilot study was selected by contacting principals in the approved school districts who had African American male teachers with more than 3 years of experience. Principals provided names of African American males who met this criterion. The African American teachers in the convenience sample were contacted by mail and provided with written documentation that described the study. After consent forms were returned, teachers were mailed a copy of the survey. These teachers recommended changes to improve the formatting and readability of the survey instrument. With input from the teachers in the convenience sample, the survey instrument used in this study was finalized.


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After reviewing the names and school addresses of the sample, all African American male teachers in the sample were contacted by mail and provided with written documentation that described the study. After receiving consent forms, the African American male teachers in the sample were mailed a copy of the survey instrument (see the appendix) during the fall 2002 semester. One week following the first of two mailings of the survey, the researcher learned that approximately 20% of the sample was no longer working in the three school districts used in this study. A total of 229 African American male teachers in the selected sample were sent the survey instrument for this study. Respondents returned 147 surveys (65%) for data analysis.


Table 1 illustrates the response rates for the total number of African American male teachers in the selected school districts; these data were obtained from human resources personnel. In school district 1, 45 African American male teachers received the survey with 27 responding; in school district 2, 58 African American male teachers received the survey with 42 responding; and in school district 3, 126 African American male teachers received the survey, with 78 responding. As a result, the total of African American males in this study who received a survey was 229, with 147 responding, for a response rate of 65%.


INSTRUMENTATION


The survey instrument used in this study was derived from another research study that examined factors influencing the recruitment and retention of African American teachers in select Texas school districts (Garret, 1998). The original survey was modified with permission to gain insight, and pertinent data focused specifically on African American male teachers.


The first section of the survey instrument had six questions requesting background information about the participants. The second section of the survey collected data about recruitment and retention mechanisms that were deemed important by African American male teachers. This section contained 11 recruitment mechanisms and 14 retention mechanisms that African American teachers responded to in a Likert-scale format. The participants had five choices to choose from for each recruitment and retention mechanism. The choices were very encouraging (VE), encouraging (E), discouraging (D), very discouraging (VD), and not applicable (NA). For analysis, each item was scored with the following criteria: VE 5 4 points; E 5 3 points; D 5 2 points; VD 5 1 point; and NA 5 0 points. The final section of the survey allowed participants to respond to an open-ended question concerning the future of recruitment and retention of African American male teachers in U.S. public schools. The major themes from this question will be highlighted in the Findings section of this study. Given the importance of understanding what African American male teachers in this study believe to be essential in the areas of recruitment and retention, the following research questions were examined:


1. What recruitment mechanisms are most effective in encouraging African American males to enter the teaching profession?


2. What retention mechanisms are the most effective in encouraging African American males to remain in the teaching profession?


DATA ANALYSES


Because of the nature of the survey instrument used in this study, standard descriptive statistics (i.e., frequencies, means, percentages, and standard deviations) were used to provide data on what African American males teachers in this study deemed important in the area of recruitment and retention. As a result, African American male teachers in this study reported the top five recruitment and retention strategies that influenced their decision to join their school districts. Findings are reported in Tables 3 and 4.


FINDINGS


In this study, the age range of the sample was 21-30 (85%); the remaining African American male teachers were between the ages of 31 and 40. Further, 25 teachers (17%) had less than 1 year of teaching experience, 62 teachers (42%) had 1 year of teaching experience, 31 teachers (21%) had 2 years of experience, and 29 teachers (20%) had 3 years of teaching experience. Table 2 illustrates data gathered from the following question: “Who was the most influential person in your decision to join the teaching profession?” The top five responses, as indicated by the total number of respondents checking the appropriate responses, were (1) family member (60%); (2) high school teacher (16%); (3) elementary teacher (8%); (4) counselor (6%); and (5) friend (5%). Overwhelmingly, African American male teachers (60%) in this study reported that a family member was the most influential person in their decision to join the teaching profession. Further results are found in Table 2.


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RECRUITMENT MECHANISMS


In research question 1, African American male teachers were asked, “What recruitment mechanisms were most effective in your selection of the teaching profession?” Table 3 provides an analysis of what was most valued by African American male teachers in the area of recruitment. The top five responses were (1) helping young people; (2) needing a job; (3) contributions to humanity; (4) location of job; and (5) other. Table 3 displays each recruitment strategy, along with the mean scores and standard deviations from the respondents.


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On the last question of the survey instrument under the area of recruitment, African American male teachers were asked how the recruitment of African American male teachers could be improved by their respective school districts. The following major themes were found:


1. Recruit teachers from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).


2. Provide better benefits, higher salaries, and better working conditions.


3. Allow African American male teachers that are currently employed by school districts to be recruiters at job fairs.


4. Use the media (i.e., television, radio, and Internet) to better recruit African American males.


5. Provide equal opportunity based on true qualifications and not “who you know.”


RETENTION MECHANISMS


In research question 2, African American male teachers were asked, “What retention mechanisms were the most effective in your decision to remain in the teaching profession?” Table 4 provides an analysis of responses to this question. The top five responses were (1) job security; (2) contributions to humanity; (3) goals (short/long-term); (4) location of job; and (5) administrative support. Table 4 shows each retention strategy, along with the mean scores and standard deviations from the respondents in the study.


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DISCUSSION


So what can be made of the findings of this study? The African American male respondents raised some very interesting points that school district personnel and others concerned with their recruitment and retention should seriously consider. First, when asked, “Who was the most influential person in your decision to join the teaching profession?” 60% of the African American male teachers stated that a family member was most influential. Given that, school district personnel should not only look to recruit the individual but also look at targeted recruitment that involves the entire family. Moore (2001) noted that many African American college students rely greatly on parents, friends, and extended family for encouragement and support for important decisions in their academic lives. Because parents and other family members play a key role in many academic decisions, school districts should make sure that they involve the family members in the recruitment process. This may take the form of visiting a potential candidate in his home to talk about the benefits for family members (e.g., children attending quality schools, fringe benefits for immediate family, and workshops with family and community).


Second, African American male teachers in this study were asked, “What was the most important recruitment mechanism offered by your school district that influenced your decision to become a teacher?” The respondents reported that helping young people succeed was the recruitment mechanism offered by school districts that influenced their decision to become teachers. As a result, school district personnel should emphasize the societal importance of helping young people succeed as one of their primary recruitment strategies for prospective African American male teachers because they want to reach back and help other African American students become successful (Lewis et al., 2004). In addition, the second and third most important recruitment mechanisms to African American male teachers in this study were needing a job and contributions to humanity. These findings are important for school district officials to understand when trying to recruit African American males into the teaching profession. Respondents in this study showed that the recruitment mechanisms of helping young people succeed, needing a job, and contributions to humanity are the highest priorities in the recruitment process for the teaching profession.


Third, this study also highlighted that the retention strategies for African American male teachers should also be expanded. African American male teachers noted that the most important components of their current positions that have allowed them to stay was the job security of the position, contributions to humanity, and short- and long-term goals. As the corporate sector tries to recruit African American male teachers from their positions, school districts should seek to find methods to highlight the job security and the contributions to humanity that are connected with the teaching position. School districts can also provide quality mentoring to aid African American male teachers in understanding how their teaching positions fit into their short- and long-term goals (Freeman, 1999; Stephens, 1999; White-Hood, 1993). Further, quality mentoring can aid African American male teachers to easily make it through the probationary period and become a permanent employee in the school district. Job security can also be expanded by allowing African American male teachers an opportunity to seek administrative positions within the school districts. This may take the form of administrative internships, in which African American males can be trained to understand how administrative positions work within a school district. This will make African American males more marketable within their school districts and provide opportunities for career advancement. By implementing these types of retention mechanisms, school districts will increase the odds of retaining qualified African American male teachers in the future.


LIMITATIONS/AREAS OF FUTURE RESEARCH


After completing the study, the findings are limited in a variety of ways. The limitations are as follows:


1. This study was restricted to three school districts in Louisiana; therefore, caution should be taken in generalizing the results to other school districts with African American male teachers.


2. Although the sample included African American males in the targeted school districts, the responses may not be representative of all African American male teachers in these school districts.


To improve the recruitment and retention of African American males in K-12 schools, the following recommendations are provided as areas of future research that should be examined:


1. A large-scale study should be conducted with African American college students majoring in education to understand what influenced their choice to become teachers.


2. A systematic review of literature should be conducted over the past 10 years of research to examine what recruitment and retention strategies work best for placing African American male teachers in K-12 schools.


3. More empirical studies should be conducted on African American male teachers to continue to inform the discussion on the critical need for African American male teachers.


CONCLUSION


The literature review highlighted the importance of having African American male teachers in the classrooms across the United States. Because many school districts are in dire need of African American male role models, school districts should purposefully seek to recruit teachers of color in the classroom. This can be done by targeting recruiting efforts toward people of color, specifically African American males.


In this study, the top three recruitment mechanisms that were most important to African American male teachers were (1) helping young people, (2) needing a job, and (3) contributions to humanity. Thus, the following recommendations are essential for school district hiring officials. First, school district officials must continue to stress at various job fairs the critical role of teachers, specifically African American male teachers, in helping young people reach their educational goals and become productive members of society. Second, as another recruitment mechanism, school district officials must continue to inform African American male college students that teaching positions are readily available upon graduation from college in a variety of subject areas. Third, school district officials must remind potential African American male teachers that their efforts are an excellent way to contribute to humanity in a way that cannot be done in many other professions. Based on the findings, school districts can use these recruitment mechanisms to aid in increasing the presence of the African American male teachers in the classroom.


In the area of retention of African American male teachers, this study found that the top three retention mechanisms were (1) job security, (2) contributions to humanity, and (3) goals (short- and long-term). As a result, the following recommendations are essential for school districts to retain their current African American male teachers. First, school district officials must continue to remind African American male teachers of the valuable job security in the field of education. District officials can provide these teachers with other opportunities within the district to increase the chances of African American male teachers wanting to stay within the district. Second, school district officials must continue to remind current African American male teachers that their efforts as teachers are making a difference in the lives of their students. Third, school districts should assign a quality mentor to each African American male teacher to discuss any issues in their teaching assignments and to discuss how the teaching assignments fit into their short-and long-term goals. Given these retention strategies based on the findings in this study, school district officials can increase the retention rates of current African American male teachers.


Finally, the following general recruitment strategies are also provided to aid school districts in their efforts to recruit more African American male teachers. First, school districts should continue to focus heavily on recruiting African American males, including those attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Second, school districts should set the hiring of African American male teachers as a priority, given that the student population is growing more ethnically diverse. Third, school districts should begin the recruitment process as early as high school and provide funding for colleges to recruit African American males who are most interested in the teaching field. Fourth, teacher education programs need to seriously consider collaborating with 2-year institutions, because this is where the largest pool of African Americans has found entrance into higher education (Lewis & Middleton, 2003).


In conclusion, African American male teachers are of critical importance in the nation’s diverse classrooms. Not only do African American male teachers serve as role models for African American students, but they also are role models to all students. By having African American male teachers in the classroom, students can see that African American males can be more than athletes, entertainers, and inmates. It is hoped that school district officials will set the hiring of African American male teachers as a priority given that the student population in public schools continues to become more diverse.


References


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APPENDIX


SURVEY INSTRUMENT


BACKGROUND INFORMATION


Please check the appropriate response(s) for each item:


1. Age:


_____ a. 21-30

_____ b. 31-40

_____ c. 41-50

_____ d. 51-60

_____ e. 61+


2. Years of experience (entire career)


_____a. 0

_____b. 1

_____c. 2

_____d. 3


3. Grade level(s) for which you have had instructional responsibility


_____a. Elementary

_____b. Secondary


4. The highest academic degree you have attained:


_____a. Bachelor’s

_____b. Master’s

_____c. Doctorate


5. What was your undergraduate major? What university/college?


Major:_____

University/College: _____


6. The most influential person(s) in your decision to teach: (check all that apply)


_____ a. family member

_____ b. elementary

_____ c. high school teacher

_____ d. friend

_____ e. elementary principal

_____ f. high school principal

_____ g. counselor

_____ h. other (please specify) _____


FACTORS INFLUENCE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE TEACHERS


The following items represent various factors of teaching. Please rate each factor as you regard its relative degree of encouragement for considering remaining in your current teaching position. Place the appropriate letter(s) in the space provided to the left of each number. All questionnaires are anonymous.


Ratings:

VE-very encouraging

E-encouraging

D-discouraging

VD-very discouraging

NA-not applicable


Recruitment Mechanisms

What encouraged you to take your current position ?


_____ 1. salary

_____ 2. benefits

_____ 3. contributions to humanity

_____ 4. individual social status

_____ 5. size of district/school

_____ 6. helping young people

_____ 7. class size

_____ 8. needed a job

_____ 9. location of job

 _____ 10. other _____


Retention Mechanisms

What keeps you in your current position?


_____ 1. salary                                

_____ 2. benefits                                

_____ 3. contributions to humanity

_____ 4. individual social status

_____ 5. location of job     

_____ 6. class size

_____ 7. curriculum

_____ 8. size of district/school

_____ 9. job security

_____ 10. working conditions

_____ 11. parental support

_____ 12. goals (long/short term)

_____ 13. administrative support

_____ 14. other _____


In your opinion, how could recruitment and retention of African American teachers be improved?




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 2, 2006, p. 224-245
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