Boosting the number of male teachers of color

02.24.15 | Learning on the EDge | 0 Comments

By Marybeth Gasman, Andrés Castro Samayoa, Alice Ginsberg, and Francisco Ramos

Colleges and universities play a vital role in K-12 education by inspiring, instructing, and certifying the future teachers and leaders of the nation’s schools. As the demographic composition of K-12 public school children continues to reflect the nation’s growing racially diverse population, examining the important role that minority-serving institutions play in producing future minority teachers becomes an increasing national imperative. According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

As a nation, we have far too few teachers of color. We have been far too reluctant to put the issue of race on the table. More than 35% of public students are black or Hispanic, but less than 15% of our teachers are black or Latino. It is especially troubling that less than 2% of our nation’s teachers are African-American males.

Given the relative paucity of men of color in the teaching profession and the particular needs of boys of color in schools, it is imperative that we work to create opportunities that can speak to their particular needs.  According to the Department of Education and the Coalition of Educating Boys of Color, boys and men of color are disproportionately at risk.  In addition to significant disparities in standardized tests scores, boys of color are disproportionately placed in special education programs, are more likely to receive harsher disciplinary measures than white males — which include suspensions, expulsions, and transfers to alternative educational settings. Currently, just over half of Hispanic, African-American, and Native American male students who begin high school will graduate.

And even for those boys who do graduate high school, counseling services that would guide them to higher education are economically sparse, understaffed, and undeveloped. This leads to large disparities in preparation for boys and young men of color at all levels.  For example, a disproportionate number of black and Latino men are unemployed or in the criminal justice system. These factors contribute to the undermining of families and local communities and waste enormous human potential and much needed public resources. Finally, as a result of these circumstances, men of color are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes and limited job prospects.

Minority-serving institutions can and do play a large role in addressing these statistics by changing the lives of men of color. Consider, for example, data pertaining to enrollment and degree attainment:

  • Over 36% of men of color with full-time college enrollment are found at minority-serving institutions.
  • Nearly half (48.6%) of men of color with part-time college enrollment are found at minority-serving institutions.
  • Of the 196,110 bachelor’s degrees conferred to men of color, 24% (n=58,657) are awarded by minority-serving institutions.
  • 22% percent (n=50,829) of men of color with associate degrees earned them at minority-serving institutions.
  • Minority-serving institutions represent less than 8% of all postsecondary institutions in the nation and still make these contributions.

Clearly, minority-serving institutions play an important role in the degree production of men of color. It is self-evident that an investment in teacher education at minority-serving institutions would result in more male teachers of color. Based on 2013 completion data, of the 20,618 bachelor’s degrees in education awarded during the 2012-13 academic year to people of color, 4,399 (21%) were completed by men. Over a third (n=1,591) of these degrees were conferred at minority-serving institutions despite the fact that minority-serving institutions account for less than 8% of all postsecondary institutions. Interestingly, black men constitute 22.8% (n=1,821) of all received degrees in education. However, at minority-serving institutions, black men comprise 26.4% (n=635) of all education degrees awarded to black students. This numerical increase is a promising indicator that minority-serving institutions have a potentially valuable story to share with their majority institution counterparts when it comes to educating men of color who aspire to be educators.


About By Marybeth Gasman, Andrés Castro Samayoa, Alice Ginsberg, and Francisco Ramos

MARYBETH GASMAN is a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and director of the Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions. Her last Kappan article was “How to write an opinion essay and why you should do it now,” Phi Delta Kappan, 96 (1) (September 2014): 28-29. ANDRÉS CASTRO SAMAYOA is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and research assistant at the Center for Minority-Serving Institutions. ALICE GINSBERG is the curriculum development and education specialist and FRANCISCO RAMOS is an anthropologist of education and research associate, both at the Center for Minority-Serving Institutions.

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