Columbia, SC (WLTX) — The U.S. Department of Education says it wants to recruit more diverse and qualified educators and created a new initiative to help the process.
It’s called the TEACH Campaign, and has a goal of encouraging more minorities–especially males–to go after careers in the classroom.
The department says less than two percent of educators are African-American males and that has led some in the black community to launch “5 by 2015”. It’s a movement to bring 80,000 black males to the classroom in the next five years, bumping that two percent to five.
William Boyles teaches science at C.A. Johnson High School in Richland County. He says he never expected to end up at the front of a class room, despite coming from a family of educators. He says he fell into the profession by accident when his sister told him about a position.
“I said I don’t know if I can really do education, I don’t know and I gave it a try and I love it! It has become my passion to share my knowledge with the students,” said the teacher of six years.
His students get that message loud and clear. Tenth grader Christopher Edwards says Boyles is the first African-American man he’s ever had as a teacher. The 16-year-old says it’s more comfortable and encouraging having someone he can relate to lead the class.
“It shows them what they could do, like if they work hard,” said Edwards. “People could do a story on them like Mr. Boyles.”
“Being a black male, and teaching an African-American student population, I am more susceptible and more knowledgeable of their culture. So I think that the best way we can engage students is, incorporate their culture in their classroom because humans function better with the culture they’re most comfortable with and that’s what I like to engage my students with,” said Boyles.
The U.S. Department of Education say it expects about a million teachers to retire in the next few years. They’re hoping to fill those spots with minority educators, especially African-American males, who they say represent less than two percent of teachers in the country.
Those numbers mirror what you’ll find in South Carolina. The state’s department of education says it has a 47 percent minority student population, with 37 percent African-Americans and almost 19 percent black males.
Out of more than 48,000 thousand educators, only 2.5 percent are African-American males.
Still Boyles says while more black men in the classrooms could help some students feel more comfortable and expose others to more diversity, quality should come first.
“I don’t think that race, so to speak, is the big piece I think that we need to focus on how can we recruit quality teachers that can become passionate,” said Boyles.
For more information on the Teach campaign visit them online at https://www.teach.org/.