Black Male Students

Combating White Skepticism of Black Teachers Teaching Black Students

While most White people involved in the field of Education will say that they support improving Black male academic achievement, some of them become skeptical when Black teachers play a significant role in helping Black students to ameliorate their academic achievement.  It’s natural for Black teachers to have a special passion for boosting the academic achievement of Black students.  Because of the impact of slavery and Jim Crow and their residual effects, many Black people understand the need to passionately advocate for other Black people.  Most Black teachers, if not all, want to provide all students with the highest quality education possible, regardless of their students’ race and ethnicity.  Unfortunately, some White people situated in the education sector do not truly want to see Black students succeed.

Some White people in Education do not trust Black teachers to be able to increase the academic achievement of Black students without cheating for them.  Now, most of the White people who cannot believe that Black students’ academic achievement can be increased without cheating for them will not directly tell the Black teachers that they think they cheated for their Black students.  It is fallacious to think that just because a Black teacher teaches Black students he or she will cheat for those Black students.  Now, you don’t hear a significant number of Black people running around saying that White teachers are cheating for White students just because they are White.

Some Whites’ skepticism toward the improved academic achievement of Black students that has resulted from the teaching of Black teachers dramatically intensifies when it is a Black male teacher helping Black male students to ameliorate their academic achievement.  It seems like some Whites think that Black male teachers are not only going to cheat for Black male students, but also cheat so much for them that their grades end up being astonishingly higher than they have ever been.  When Black male students are making tremendously high grades, it offers a serious counternarrative to the lies and negativity that some Whites like to propagate about Black male students and Black male academic achievement.

Black parents and White parents who are committed to the improved academic achievement of all students need to strengthen their support for Black male teachers who evince a zeal for enhancing the academic achievement of Black male students.  When one truly understands that extensive research has proven that Black male students at every level of the educational pipeline academically underperform all of their peers, then it becomes reasonable to understand why a Black male teacher would develop a special passion for improving the academic achievement of Black male students.  With such vexing academic underachievement at all levels of the educational pipeline, Black male students need everyone who is truly concerned about education in America to give them greater support and attention.

You cannot be seriously committed to education reform in America when you’re not devoted to the improvement of Black male academic achievement.  We should view Black male academic underachievement as a national crisis.  If White male students at every level of the educational pipeline were academically underperforming all of their peers, we would have been declared their academic problems a national crisis.  For some reason, Black male students have not been privileged enough to have their academic struggles be promulgated as a national priority.

Although the Black community must make the improvement of Black male academic achievement a serious national priority, stronger efforts to involve more Whites in this effort is necessary.  We have to think critically about ways to engage more Whites in the effort to ameliorate Black male academic achievement.  Moreover, we have to think more deeply about how make strengthening Black male academic achievement a national priority for Black people.  While some Whites will always remain skeptical of Black teachers working with Black male students to enhance their academic achievement, there must be larger efforts to support the continual efforts of Black teachers to improve Black male academic achievement.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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You Gotta Love Me to Improve Me: The Cry of Black Male Students

The extant professional literature has extensively evinced that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline (See Jerlando F.L. Jackson’s “Toward Administrative Diversity: An Analysis of the African-American Male Educational Pipeline”). Limited research exists on what impact the level of love teachers have for the profession has on Black male students’ learning outcomes. People will ask how are you going to measure love for the profession. One of the important ways to measure a teacher’s love for the profession is to ask him or her how important of a problem is it to him or her that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline. Next, one can ask the teacher what is he or she doing to ameliorate this problem. I think that gaining answers from teachers on those two questions are important steps to gaining a qualitative understanding of where teachers stand on the problem of Black male academic underachievement.

Given that America has been a historically racist nation and continues to be a racist nation, I contend that it is vital to engage White teachers with queries that seek to understand how they feel about the quandary of Black male academic underachievement. In no way am I trying to call all White teachers racists. It’s just a reality that most students are educated by White teachers in America. The existing scholarly literature needs to benefit from qualitative research that examines the perceptions of White teachers about the problem of Black male academic underachievement. We need to understand what percentage of them really views this as a serious problem. We also need to know why White teachers think this problem exists. These questions need to be asked to White teachers because we need to uncover the level of investment they have in Black male students throughout the educational pipeline.

It is very possible that one of the foremost contributing factors to Black male academic underachievement could be many White teachers’ lack of a strong investment in Black male academic success. As we look to further identify the most significant factors that contribute to Black male academic underachievement, we cannot be afraid to ask questions that might be offensive to people. If people get offended when you are solemnly exploring questions aimed at buttressing Black male academic achievement, then that’s just tough for them. It seems that there are not enough people getting offended about Black males academically lagging behind all students throughout the educational pipeline. That’s what we need to get offended about! Therefore, if you get offended when I start asking you whether or not you really love Black male students, then you will just have to be offended.

I am not going to let Black teachers off the hook either. If you really love the members of your community and are looking to uplift your community, then what are you doing to advance Black male education? What are you doing to support positive educational experiences and outcomes for Black males? What are you doing special for them to meet their special realities? I don’t want to hear this crap about having to treat them the same as everyone else. If you have that kind of mindset, then you really don’t care about them because they are not just like everyone else—they are the most academically underperforming students throughout every grade level.

I encourage you to do whatever you can to help to ameliorate Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. We can keep more Black men off the streets, out of gangs, out of prisons, and off of drugs when we take the initiative to dedicate ourselves more to ensuring that they have positive educational experiences and outcomes. I will continue to posit that the American education system is failing until I see a substantial improvement in Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. Black boys and men are worth more than the gargantuan profits they can produce for you on football fields and basketball courts.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison