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Fostering Men of Color in Education

By: Elias Khoury, City Year Detroit AmeriCorps member serving Bethune Elementary-Middle School 

One reason behind the racial achievement gap is a lack of male educators of color. Though research has shown that students of color, particularly Black boys, experience better outcomes when they have at least one same-race teacher, fewer than 2% of teachers working in American schools are Black or Latino men. The negative effects of this underrepresentation are vast. That’s why City Year Detroit recently convened a panel to discuss the topic. 

Explore The Long-run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers that found Black students with at least one Black teacher during elementary school were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college than their peers who did not have any Black teachers.

Representation in our teaching force matters

The Fostering Men of Color in Education virtual event on February 27 was moderated by Robert Humphrey, a recruiter for City Year who encourages young adults to apply and serve with one of our 29 U.S. sites. The panelists included Rudy Hobbs, Partner of Michigan Legislative Consultants, who is a former schoolteacher as well as a City Year Detroit board member, and Latrell Bradshaw, a  City Year Detroit’s impact manager serving at Cody High School, who supports AmeriCorps members serving as student success coaches. For roughly an hour, the two fielded thought-provoking questions and provided insight into the state of men of color in education. 

Did you know that about half of City Year alumni currently work in the education sector? Learn more about our extraordinary alumni.

An especially powerful moment came when Hobbs explained why he entered the education field prior to becoming a lobbyist and consultant. “If you give a kid the ability to love learning,” Hobbs said, “nobody can ever take that away from them. Once you instill it, it’s theirs.” 

Despite this, many people — and perhaps men of color in particular — do not see teaching as an attractive profession.

“Teachers are under attack from state legislators across the country,” Hobbs explained. “The federal government is not doing enough to support them either. Educators do not feel valued, and that is an issue for attracting people to the profession.” 

None of that, however, prevented Bradshaw from having a flourishing career in education. During the panel, he shared tips for what made him such a successful teacher. Above all, Bradshaw explained that educators should strive to be themselves. 

“Authenticity is what creates an ideal classroom environment,” he noted. “When you are yourself, you’re also giving students permission to be themselves. It’s a ripple effect, starting with you and trickling down to the kids.” 

City Year Executive Director Darryl Bundrige explains why our schools need more Black teachers.

The event was filled with these nuggets of wisdom. Attendees came away with a better sense of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for male educators of color. They also developed a deeper understanding of why having men of color represented in education-based careers is so important. 

“Young Black and brown boys want to see themselves represented, said Bradshaw. “Male teachers of color put that image in front of them. They show young kids that being a male of color in education is possible.” 

Hobbs echoed these remarks. “Identity means a lot. For us to be able to see ourselves in others is so important. It meant a lot for my first-grade students to see me, as a Black man, give every one of them a hug before school.” 

City Year is building pathways into education for young adults of color

City Year has developed pathways into teaching for AmeriCorps members and alums, making teacher training programs more affordable and accessible.

Our alumni teachers are significantly more diverse and tend to stay in the profession longer than the national averages, helping to strengthen and diversify the educator workforce.

Learn more about City Year’s Teacher Pathways work.

View the full recording of the Fostering Men of Color in Education virtual event above.

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