Georgia grapples with critical shortage of Black male teachers
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Education experts warn of a critical shortage of Black male teachers in U.S. public schools.
Verdalia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, warned the shortage impacts all students.
“We must have men in every profession, especially Black men, so all children of all races and ethnicities see African American men lead, teach, and nurture,” said Turner. “The teaching profession must man up.”
A report by USA Facts finds Black male teachers made up 6.5% of public school teachers in 2017-2018. The latest available data from 2020-2021 finds that%age dropped to just 1.3%.
Turner cites four C’s as reasons Black men are leaving the field of teaching: compensation, conditions, culture and a climate of disrespect in classrooms.
“Men are not going to stay around in conditions where they are talked down to, not respected,” said Turner. “Black teachers are finding more mobility and satisfaction in other professions they normally wouldn’t be able to get into 20 to 30 years ago.”
Georgia reports 4% of Black male teachers in public schools, one of the highest%ages in the country.
About 36% of Georgia public school students are Black, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
Carl Weaver, a former Atlanta-area teacher, cited compensation as a main driver in his decision to stop teaching.
“It’s a decision that’s best, not only for yourself but for your family,” said Weaver.
Weaver taught 3rd and 5th-grade students for several years before stepping out of the classroom to pursue a different career in education as a multi-tier system of support specialist at Dekalb County Schools.
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Others in the industry have gotten out of the industry altogether, he said.
“You have people encouraging you to find something else to do because they find something else to do,” Weaver explained. “If I can sit at a desk or sell houses and make six figures, why not?”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Black students who had a Black teacher for one year before fourth grade earn higher math and reading scores than Black students only taught by white teachers. They are also five%age points more likely to graduate high school and four%age points more likely to go to college.
Turner said advocates in Georgia are pushing for more political power for teachers. They want policy members at a state and local level to support measures that can improve compensation, conditions, culture, and climate for teachers.
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