By Alice Ginsberg, Marybeth Gasman, and Andrés Castro Samayoa
In recent article in Education Week titled “Black male teachers a dwindling demographic,” Corey Mitchell writes that, “Even when teachers of color find work in the classroom, many end up fleeing out of frustration.” Citing a 2015 report by the Albert Shanker Institute on the state of diversity in teacher education, Mitchell calls attention to disturbing statistics about the attrition of teachers of color, and, in particular, black men. Mitchell suggests that while the pool of qualified and committed teachers of color is increasing, these same teachers are leaving the profession at higher rates than white teachers, drawing upon research findings that “many nonwhite educators feel voiceless and incapable of effecting change in their schools.”
Mitchell emphasizes that in cases where black male teachers are one of the only male teachers of color in their school they often feel isolated. While they are often called upon to deal with discipline issues, black male teachers tend to be viewed as intellectually inferior by their white colleagues as they are not consulted about issues of actual teaching or curriculum content. On the other hand, schools with higher clusters of black male teachers tend to be among the hardest to staff, economically disadvantaged, and lowest performing schools. The working conditions can be so exhausting and overwhelming that even the most dedicated and highly trained teachers burn out quickly.
While Mitchell rightly underscores the combination of personal, institutional, and structural reasons that Black men are leaving the teaching profession, there is reason for optimism that this statistic can be reversed.