Excited to have my first guest post here by Rutgers PhD candidate and local educator, Rann Miller. He’s a great follow on twitter (@UrbanEdDJ) and his blog is a must-read. (https://urbanedmixtape.com).

Increasing attention is surrounding the need for school districts to hire more Black male teachers. Academics and journalists alike have offered statistical and common sense evidence to show the importance of Black male teachers for a variety of reasons. For example, a North Carolina study showed a decrease in disciplinary referrals for Black students when taught by a Black teacher.[1] A New York University study showed that Black students preferred Black teachers; Asian students preferred Black teachers more than Black students.[2] Lastly, a study of Tennessee students Showed that when randomly placed with a Black teacher, Black students showed more improvement that Black students taught by White teachers.[3] The wealth of evidence isn’t just to add Black male teachers to urban and inner-city classrooms. The evidence points to the benefits of Black male teachers in all of classrooms.[4] More simply, Black male teachers should be hired in school districts nationwide because they are underrepresented in America’s classrooms. Black male teachers are only 2% of the nation’s teaching population[5]; it is safe to hypothesize that Black males make up more than 2% of the nation’s student population. In New Jersey, Black male teachers are 1.6% of the state’s teaching population (1,926.5 teachers); Black students make up roughly 16% of the state’s student population (216,329 students).[6] New Jersey needs more Black male teachers in the classroom.

You may be a school leader, or even district administrator, who knows your district’s need for more Black male teachers. However, each year your district fails to hire more Black male teachers than you desire. One of the more common explanations for why that is according to those in leadership, they claim that they don’t know where to find viable Black male teaching candidates. But more critical than just finding them is making the decision on how many Black male teachers you’d like to hire. Depending on your philosophy on affirmative action, you may or may not agree with instituting something similar to a “quota” system of hiring for your faculty. Consider the quota checks we have for our performance goals – we set targets or quotas for student proficiency on in-house and state assessments. Those quotas give educators a goal to achieve; the same is true for when hiring faculty. Without defining the number of Black male teachers you want to see in your district or a specific school, you’ll continue the same practice of the unintended recruiting of teacher candidates. The recruiting of targeted candidates must be intentional and strategic. But before you recruit, you must establish a target number.

Should you just pic a number? You could in theory, but how do you justify that number to the board of education or the superintendent? You must have evidence. How do you justify a number, you ask? Like all things worthy and non-worthy in education, we justify our needs and desires with data. While state data is good for macro-level discussions, you need district data at the foundation of your argument for the number that you choose. You should use your district’s teacher and student demographic data to come to a conclusion on the number of Black male teacher candidates you should hire. You don’t need to hire a consultant to find these numbers or to organize them. You can get the numbers right off the NJDOE site. For an example on what your evidence should look like, please refer to tables A & B below:

Table A – % Change Comparison of Black Male Teachers & Black Students Between District A & B from 2009-2010 to 2015-2016


Table B – Ratio of Black Male Teacher to Black Students for District A from 2009-2010 to 2015-2016

Both districts A and B are districts in Camden County, New Jersey. District A is a grade 9-12 suburban district and district B is a K-12 suburban district. According to the NJDOE School performance report, both schools are in the same peer group.[7] You should focus on two metrics highlighted in red in the tables above: percent change (increase or decrease) and ratio. Percent change is a focus on trends while the teacher to student ratio is a focus on proportionality. Let’s start with table A. Let’s say you are a superintendent for district A and you want some data-based evidence for why your district needs to trend higher where Black male teachers are concerned. Your district has seen a percent increase of Black students by roughly 12% from the 2009-2010 year to the 2015-2016 year, whereas you’ve only had a percent increase of 4% for Black male teachers at that same time. When you compare that with district B (a roughly 10% increase in Black students while no change in the percentage of Black male teachers), you may feel good about your district. However, you can improve. A good guideline for the number you should hire is over/under 3% of the student percent increase. In other words, to catch up with the trending number of Black students in your district, at least 8.7% of your new hires should be Black men. For more perspective look at table B. Simply looking at the ratio, your district (district A) had 1 Black male teacher for every 122 Black students. To put that in perspective, your district had 1 White male teacher for every 22 White students. This simple-to-gather data autopsy of your district’s demographics is enough micro-level evidence to support the recommendation for hiring more Black male teachers. Creating a dataset and running regressions is an ever better way to gather evidence but I digress.*Ratios are rounded to the nearest whole number

It is important to reiterate that Black male teachers are not simply meant to teach Black students. Black male teachers are an asset to all students and should be regarded as such. Black male teachers come with a passion and perspective that is vital to classrooms nationwide. While school leaders and district officials may agree with that truth, they must set a target number of Black males to hire. You could pick a number out of thin air, but there is no commitment to thin air. Commitments are made when there is evidence to support it. Use the data at your disposal to discover your desired target, designate a number and commit to meeting it by your hiring deadline. Choosing a number that is data-based will inform your recruitment and guide your hiring course moving forward.

Rann Miller is a doctoral student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden Campus. He is a director of a federally funded after-school program for a school district located in southern New Jersey. He is a former classroom teacher of 6 years in charter schools located in Camden, New Jersey. He is the author of the Urban Education Mixtape Blog (https://urbanedmixtape.com). He can be followed on twitter at @UrbanEdDJ

[1] Lindsay, C. A. (2016) Teacher Race and School Discipline. Education Next, 17(1). Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://educationnext.org/teacher-race-and-school-discipline-suspensions-research/

[2] Cherng, H.-Y. S. (2016). The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Versus White Teachers. Educational Researcher, 407-420.

[3] Dee, T. S. (2004). The Race Connection. Education Next, 4(2). Retrieved January 24, 2017, from http://educationnext.org/the-race-connection/

[4] Anderson, M. D. Why Schools Need More Teachers of Color—For White Students. The Atlantic. Retrieved November 11, 2016 from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/teachers-of-color-white-students/400553/

[5] Bristol, T. (2015). Recruiting and Retaining Educators of Color. Washington D.C.: White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Toldson, I. (2012). How Race Matters in the Classroom. The Root, p. 4. Retrieved December 2, 2016, from https://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2012/10/how_race_matters_in_the_classroom/2/

[6] These numbers were from the 2015-2016 school year and can be found on the state DOE website.

[7] According to the NJDOE, peer schools and/or districts are drawn from across the state and represent schools that have similar grade configurations and that are educating students of similar demographic characteristics, as measured by enrollment in Free/Reduced Lunch Programs, Limited English Proficiency or Special Education Programs

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