NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Do Something

Attend the Black Male Educators Convening

The Fellowship of Black Male Educators holds its 6th convening on Saturday.

It’s free, but you need to register here.

 

 

Connect WITH OUR SOCIAL ACTION TEAM



Read More

Video

Listen to what Teacher's for America alum Dymir Arthur has to say about his experience

Cheat Sheet

This story in a nutshell

  • Students matched with a same-race teacher  only benefit from more favorable teacher perceptions, perform better on standardized tests and graduate from high school at higher rates. Exposure to a same-race teacher increases the likelihood that African American students will want to go to college
  •  In Philadelphia, even though the four percent of African American male classroom teachers is double the national percentage, we still lag far behind what’s needed to help our students, 50.49 percent of whom are African American
  • To get there, strategies have been created for hiring and retaining Black male teachers.
  • This starts with the The Fellowship (Black Male Educators for Social Justice) from a volunteer-run organization to one that is led by full-time educators and administrators
  • The goal is to have every single student in our region to have at least one highly effective Black male educator.

I Want To Be a (Black Male) Teacher

A Mastery principal and organizer sees progress—and much work to do—in his efforts to recruit effective black male teachers

A Mastery principal and organizer sees progress—and much work to do—in his efforts to recruit effective black male teachers

“Mr. El-Mekki, I’ve been thinking. I want to be a teacher.”

In my 24 years as an educator, I’ve never tired of hearing this from any of my former students. But when an African American male student, like Rasheen Hill, tells me this during a recent visit to his high school alma mater, I feel a special pride that comes with a re-energized, palpable hope for better days for future generations. A pride that’s grounded in rigorous research.

The much-discussed and written-about Johns Hopkins University study on the long-term positive impacts of same-race teachers reinforces what a lot of us educators—and all members of The Fellowship (Black Male Educators for Social Justice)—have known a very long time.

Students matched with a same-race teacher not only benefit from more favorable teacher perceptions, they also perform better on standardized tests and graduate from high school at higher rates. Just exposure to a same-race teacher increases the likelihood that African American students will want to go to college.

Students matched with a same-race teacher not only benefit from more favorable teacher perceptions, they also perform better on standardized tests and graduate from high school at higher rates. Just exposure to a same-race teacher increases the likelihood that African American students will want to go to college. That this impact was shown to be even more significant among children from the most economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods is not just a research footnote for us.

As David Jackson, an African American teacher who is a 10-year veteran of New York City public schools recently put it in a New York Times opinion piece: “For black students, having even one black teacher can make a huge difference.” Jackson goes on to talk about how his students trust him because he shares similar experiences with them and because he’s taken the time to be a part of their lives. And this trust provides a powerful foundation for life-changing instruction. Brent Staples, a product of Chester, Pennsylvania, recently wrote about his experiences as a black student with black teachers as well.

In Philadelphia, even though the four percent of African American male classroom teachers is double the national percentage, we still lag far behind what’s needed to help our students, 50.49 percent of whom are African American. This is why my colleagues and I have set for ourselves a bold agenda of tripling the number of Black male educators—to 1,000—by 2025.

To get there, we’ve set smart strategies for hiring and retaining black male teachers, starting with the transition of the Fellowship from a volunteer-run organization to one that is led by full-time educators and administrators. We are fundraising now to hire a staff person because the work of supporting current and aspiring black male educators can’t just occur after school and on weekends. We will also be able to work more directly with the School District, which announced to City Council recently that they are partnering with The Fellowship; we have already collaborated with their talent development team, and hope to do much more with them, and their strategic partners.

It’s important for people unfamiliar with The Fellowship to understand that our efforts not only support current and aspiring black male educators, but advocate for critically-conscious and highly-effective black men to step into the classroom. A black person, let alone a black male educator, who peddles the same white biases against blacks that historically undergirds many schools is of no benefit to any student. There is a critical consciousness that is needed by all educators; but black teachers who fail to educate their students from a liberating perspective can do more harm than good.

On Saturday, we’re holding our sixth black male educator convening, designed to present how educational justice and content expertise are integral ingredients in the building of an effective teacher. We’re expecting some 150 teachers, principals and other administrators from across Philly’s traditional and charter schools. For the first time this year, we are taking an “Edcamp” approach, a participant-driven teacher development approach that allows for more voices to be heard among black male educators.

The Fellowship began as a 17-member group that met monthly to discuss wins and challenges in our classrooms and schools; now, we count more than 665 as members focused on several important issues: Directly supporting current and aspiring black male educators through recruitment and retention efforts; advocating (and agitating) for policies and practices that support and empower black men; and connecting and professionally developing black male educators through our convenings.

Our goal is to have every single student in our region have a diverse group of teachers that includes at least one highly-effective black male teacher. We know that those types of experiences will lead to educators experiencing a visit from a former student, like the one I had from Rasheen. Now a West Chester University student, soon to be adding education-related coursework, Rasheed proudly sported his Alpha Phi Alpha jacket the day he stopped by. Clearly, he is getting ready to lift as he continues to climb.

Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. El-Mekki will be contributing regular columns from the school front lines this year.

Header photo courtesy of Mastery Charter Schools

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

@thephilacitizen @@thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Our next Citizen Speaks event is a collab w/ the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. Be there! https://t.co/2mUBFgBpzY 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Catch up w/ week 7 of @MalcolmJenkins' Criminal Justice Season. What are your thoughts on cash bail reform? #reentry https://t.co/QGw7FiMmFP 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Larry Platt with his thoughts on Amazon's HQ2 proposal from Philadelphia last week and how politics plays into it. https://t.co/WkTCuKcrE2 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Guest commentary from Brigitte Daniel on Amazon's HQ2 and her love for the city of #Philadelphia. #AmazonHQ2 #Philly https://t.co/h5aYM44FQQ 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Wu Tang is for the children. And the mathematicians, scientists and college professors. #HipHopEd #Philly https://t.co/EwCWcA88LQ 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Vaping stores are small businesses, owned by the type of people we say we want in this city—young entrepreneurs." https://t.co/rnOZeXRRQz 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Puerto Rico continues to struggle since the devastation of Hurricane Maria touched down. Here's how you can help. https://t.co/rDgT2heL5X 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Will a new dual enrollment program at Philly's Parkway Center City Middle College breed success for the district? https://t.co/yhRmXnti9h 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"“Children learn best in green schools that are healthy, that have outdoor educational spaces," #sustainabilityPHL https://t.co/fnc03uDw9y 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Happening now! Orgs like @ReentryUpdates are working to reduce recidivism in the state of Pa. #Reentry https://t.co/x9GCxZPz5d 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
“What we’re really solving is the lack of transparency and trust in this business,” Mike Maher of @Houwzer. #Philly https://t.co/2V4hbip7oI 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Next Tues find out what Mathematics, Science & Technology have in common with the Wu Tang Clan. #HipHopEd https://t.co/EwCWcA88LQ 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Greater Philadelphia is perfect for Amazon HQ2 [b/c] it has the best of both—low cost and high quality of life." https://t.co/h5aYM44FQQ 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story