Welcome to Race on Campus. Research has shown that Black students who have one Black teacher by third grade are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college. But Black teachers — especially Black men — are in short supply. Our Oyin Adedoyin explains what colleges are doing in response.

Plus: Thanks to the enthusiastic response to last week’s newsletter, readers share a few more tips on pronouncing students’ names.

If you have ideas, comments, or questions about this newsletter, write to me: fernanda@chronicle.com.

The importance of Black male teachers.

Even before the Great Resignation, public schools struggled to retain Black teachers, especially Black men. Nationally, only 2 percent of teachers are Black men according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That’s unfortunate, considering the impact they’ve been shown to make on minority students. Research at the Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that Black students who had one Black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college and those with two Black teachers were 32 percent more likely. And studies have found that the presence of Black teachers significantly increased the math and reading achievement of Black students.

“Colleges and universities have significant roles in helping to train and prepare diverse teacher candidates,” says Samantha Strachan, director for Alabama A&M University’s M.A.L.E. Initiative Scholarship program. Her program is one of a growing number of efforts by colleges to recruit more Black men into the teaching profession — by giving them access to an education degree.

A majority of Black men either don’t have the means to afford a teaching degree or shy away from the profession, Strachan says. Some experts say this is because of underrepresentation in colleges and the cost of a degree in education in comparison to how much teachers make. (The average starting salary for full-time public-school teachers with a bachelor’s degree is around $45,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Meanwhile, the average cost of a four-year degree at a public institution has increased about 13 percent in the last decade.)

What’s more, Black men may not have seen people who looked like them teaching their classes, and even if they do become teachers, they find that they’re one of the few Black men in the building. When Travis Bristol, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, documented the experiences of 27 Black male teachers in Boston public schools, they told him they felt “disconnected from the core mission of the school, ” especially in institutions where they were one of few.

Despite the deterrents, Black male teachers spend more time mentoring and counseling students than teachers of any other demographic, according to a report released in March by DonorsChoose. Black male teachers are most likely to list teaching during a heightened racial climate as one of the top reasons for feeling burnout, says Alix Guerrier, CEO of DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose collaborated with the Center for Black Educator Development to launch its survey, which received 5,000 responses. Thirty-two percent of the respondents were male teachers of color.

According to the report, Black male teachers also have more students spending time in their classrooms. And Black male teachers who graduated from historically Black colleges and universities show the greatest engagement with students. HBCU grads spent more time mentoring and counseling students outside of class, compared to Black non-HBCU grads.

“I can imagine that for HBCU graduates, being on campuses where their identities are affirmed by their professors and fellow classmates would then inspire them to affirm the identities of the students they teach once they enter the school setting,” Guerrier says.

Guerrier and his team also found that men were more likely to be inspired to join the teaching profession in college (for women, those ambitions often formed in elementary school), suggesting that higher ed is a key recruiting ground.

Pouring money into solutions.

Willie Davis, a graduate of Alabama A&M’s M.A.L.E. program, says he has always seen teaching as a “female-dominated profession,” which is one reason he believes there so few Black men who pursue teaching.

“Most of the men I know that are in education are administrators in upper elementary,” he says.

Davis is now a third-grade teacher at Charles F. Hard Elementary School, in Bessemer, Ala., a predominantly Black school, where, he says, he can relate to many of his students.

M.A.L.E. launched in 2020 and is a state-funded initiative coordinated by A&M’s College of Education, Humanities, and Behavioral Sciences and its Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. Program participants receive tuition assistance and test-preparation support, and mentorship. When they graduate, students are required to provide two years of service in an Alabama public school.

So far, 20 men have participated in the two-year program and have received awards of up to $10,000 per year, according to Strachan. Their goal is to recruit seven scholars per year.

Initiatives like the one at Alabama A&M have popped up at other colleges across the county, attempting to attract more minority male teachers by alleviating some of the challenges. This month, the New Jersey education department announced a similar program in partnership with Rowan University’s College of Education with “a specific focus on men from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds,” the university’s website said. In July 2021, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers allocated $350 million in the budget for one-time grants for the 2021-22 academic school year to expand existing teacher residency programs, EdSource reported. And Maryland also recently implemented its Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship aimed at reducing the financial barriers that stand between Black students and a teaching degree.

But funding remains a barrier for other long-standing teaching programs. The University of Texas at Austin launched the UTeach Institute to address racial inequities in STEM by training more Black STEM teachers. So far, Norfolk State University and Virginia State University have launched UTeach programs. But while eight other HBCUs have developed proposals for this program, UTeach is still seeking funding to launch them. —Oyin Adedoyin

More on pronouncing names.

After last week’s newsletter, many of you emailed suggestions for saying students’ names correctly. It’s great that this issue resonated with so many readers, and that y’all were moved to help your colleagues in this newsletter community. Here are a few reader-suggested tricks:

  • Kari Metts, a military veteran, is used to relying on name tapes, or the name tags on military uniforms, to remember names. Now, Metts is a veterans outreach coordinator at Concordia University Wisconsin, and when she talks to new students, she asks their name and she repeats it. If she struggles, sometimes students say that she can call them something else. She tells them no, and emphasizes that their name is a part of their identity and she wants to honor that. She wrote that she always sees a change in students after that.
  • In your email signature, you may want to consider including a “name badge,” or a link to a recording of your name, suggests Beth Salerno, a history professor at Saint Anselm College, in New Hampshire. Salerno wrote that she picked up the idea from a colleague at Haverford College. Hopefully, normalizing this email signature will ensure that it’s not just limited to those names that the campus majority culture finds harder to pronounce, she wrote.
  • Paul R. Boehlke, professor emeritus of biology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, wrote professors could email students and ask for phonetic pronunciation before class begins, or the college could provide pronunciation on the class roster.
  • And here’s related reading: Daniel Regan’s 2011 essay for The Chronicle about pronouncing the names of graduating students when they walk across the stage. Regan is a project adviser for academic affairs at Northern Vermont University.

Correction (4/27/2022, 10:45 a.m.): This newsletter originally attributed the statistic that 2 percent of teachers are Black men to the March DonorsChoose report. The stat was from the National Center for Education Statistics. This newsletter has been updated to reflect this correction.

Read up.

    • Research has shown that, like Black teachers, Black school principals can benefit students of color. The historically Black Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University are among the institutions developing new programs to put more Black women, in particular, into the principal’s chair. (The 19th)
    • The English department at Mississippi State University was ready to hire three professors with the goal of increasing faculty diversity. Then came the reverse-discrimination complaint. Sheila Sundar writes about what it was like to be “unhired.” (The Chronicle)
    • A longtime sportswriter thinks Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, wouldn’t like today’s celebrations in his honor. Here’s why. (Los Angeles Times)