South Carolina program aims to bolster ranks of black teachers

South Carolina program aims to bolster ranks of black teachers
South Carolina program aims to bolster ranks of black teachers

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — After a student in his class had another outburst, Tyler Wright couldn’t bear to see him get written off again. Wright, then a student teacher at an elementary school in Charleston, led the child down the hall to chat.

Within minutes, the student began to cry.

“He was telling me he really didn’t see his dad and stuff like that,” Wright said. “That his father was supposed to come see him but never did. Ultimately, that was the root cause of the outbursts, because the child was angry.

Wright told her that he grew up in a similar situation, but was always careful as best he could, despite what was going on at home. The conversation was all it took, Wright said, to get the student to open up and improve his behavior.

Wright became a full-time teacher at Stono Park Elementary in January, thanks to a program in Charleston aimed at making the teaching profession more accessible to black men, who are vastly underrepresented in classrooms in South Carolina and the States. -United.

Only 7% of US public school teachers were black in the 2017-18 school year, although black students make up 15% of the student population, according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Their absence from classrooms is deeply felt, especially in states like South Carolina, where nearly a fifth of students are black and black men make up less than 3% of teachers.

Having teachers who reflect their students’ identities can foster teacher-student connections — and help avoid the kind of misinterpretation of behavior that can contribute to discipline disparities for black students, experts say. Research shows that black teachers can improve academic performance and graduation rates for black students.

At a time of teacher shortages in South Carolina and across the country, the presence of black teachers can also inspire black students to pursue careers in education themselves.

“The problem starts quite young,” said Eric Duncan, a member of the policy team at the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization. “They have negative impressions of school because they are traditionally overdisciplined or misidentified in terms of behavioral issues, while they may have other issues or challenges that should be addressed in a more competent way on the cultural plan.”

There are other barriers to education for black men. Many come from low-income families and face pressure to find better-paying jobs, and there are licensing requirements that were deliberately created to prevent people of color from becoming teachers, Duncan said.

Charleston’s program, Men of CHS Teach, is a partnership between the University of South Carolina and the Charleston County School District. It places new teachers in elementary grades even if they have not participated in a student-teacher program and creates an alternative route for them to obtain teaching licenses.

The CCSD decided to focus on recruiting elementary school teachers because it is generally difficult to fill these positions with men, and research shows that if black students have a teacher of color in elementary school, they are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to consider university. For black boys from low-income backgrounds, these effects are even larger.

Program organizers hope to hire 20 male teachers of color over the next five years. Nearly half of the district’s student population is non-white.

Wright was one of the program’s first inductees. He decided he wanted to teach after working as a student issues specialist at one of the high schools in the district. A few years later, Wright is leading his own class.

South Carolina districts that have seen the largest increase in black teachers in recent years are Charleston, York 3, Richland 1 and Aiken, with a net total of nearly 80 new hires from 2017 to 2021. However, they have a little more. black male teachers overall.

Statewide, the racial demographics of teachers barely changed between 2016 and 2021, according to an analysis of data on the state’s teaching workforce.

The program in Charleston was partially inspired by Call Me MiSTER, a Clemson University program that aims to recruit, train and certify men of color to become elementary school teachers in South Carolina.

Mark Joseph, director of the program, said he had seen a decrease in the number of applicants in recent years and had to put more effort into recruiting. It’s a new era of teaching after the pandemic, Joseph said, and the curriculum has had to adapt.

“We took a different approach in terms of leadership, college, what it’s like to be part of a program that offers support, encouragement, fellowship and teamwork,” did he declare.

One realization, he said, was that teachers are ambassadors for the teaching profession.

After all, the teachers they’re looking to recruit aren’t coming out of nowhere — they’re sitting in classrooms across South Carolina.

The article is in French

USA

. program carolina south aims strengthen the ranks of the teachers black

. South Carolina program aims bolster ranks black teachers

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