Southern University to increase underrepresented male teachers

Southern University is among several southern states and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) partnering with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) to increase the number of underrepresented male teachers. SHEEO was recently awarded a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fund Project Pipeline Repair: Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs (Project PR). The project will engage state policy leaders, educator preparation programs at HBCUs, and partner schools to achieve goals and objectives of the $1.5 million award.

The grant will fund the development and implementation of academic enrichment opportunities to prepare underrepresented male high school juniors and seniors for success in a postsecondary educator preparation program. Project Pipeline Repair aims to reduce students’ need for remedial education in higher education, which can delay graduation and further serve to diminish students’ aspirations to enter the honorable profession of teaching. The project also will expose participating male students to higher education expectations in authentic postsecondary environments while developing important knowledge and skills through direct instruction, mentoring, and technology-assisted personalized learning.

With last year’s passing of the US Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and subsequent teacher preparation regulations, states are encouraged to develop innovative policies and practices that improve student achievement, including those that lead to the preparation of highly qualified teachers who can facilitate the educational success of all children. Project Pipeline Repair recognizes the historical role HBCUs have played in the preparation of African-American teachers dating back to the 19th century and sees a critical role for them in the 21st century and beyond.

According to reports, although “minorities” represent more than 50 percent of public school students, less than 20 percent of the teachers come from communities of color, and only two percent of those are African-American men.

Glen Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education in Mississippi, asserts “we must all band together and figure out how to bring African-American men back into the teaching profession.” He is joined by fellow higher education leaders Tim Vick, Maria Markham, Joseph Rallo, and Gary Glenn from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina, respectively, in his commitment to addressing the problem. Other participating HBCUs besides SUBR include Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Alcorn State University, and Claflin University.

“It is imperative for all young people to experience a diversity of teachers and ideas as they matriculate through elementary and secondary school. The low percentage of African-American males employed in the K-12 teaching force endangers the ability of schools to meet this ambition. This new SHEEO grant partnership provides an important vehicle to increase the number of African-American males pursuing K-12 teaching as a career. We owe all students the best educational settings and teachers available,” said M. Christopher Brown II, executive vice president and provost, Southern University and A&M College System.

Representatives from the HBCUs and state agencies convened for a planning meeting February 12-15, 2017, to launch Project Pipeline Repair.

SHEEO principal policy analyst and project director, Denise Pearson, sees the potential for Project Pipeline Repair to reverse current trends and inform higher education policy and practice. As a former higher education administrator and professor of education at an HBCU, Pearson observed underrepresented male college students aspiring to join the teaching profession confronted by formidable program admission and completion barriers, which included unmitigated achievement gaps.

Pearson believes Project Pipeline Repair is innovative and will achieve outcomes through emphasis on skill development in the essential areas of written and oral communication, critical thinking for problem solving, teamwork, and quantitative literacy, which are among the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ essential six learning outcomes.

SHEEO is the national membership association of state higher education executive officers who serve as leaders for statewide coordinating and governing boards and other state policy agencies for higher education.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States.

March 6, 2017

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