Retaining African-American males in the classroom

The number of male teachers in the elementary grades is miniscule when compared to the education field in its totality. In addition to this, the percentage of males in elementary schools has been on a steady decline since 1981 (Kenny, 2004). In 1981, 17% of teachers in elementary education were males. In 2004, they constituted only 9% of elementary education teachers (Kenny, 2004).

Unless the decline of male teachers in elementary school is addressed, many male children will not get an opportunity to interact with a positive male role model in their formative years. In the absence of a strong paternal figure, many male children take it upon themselves to learn how to become men, often finding a tumultuous path toward crime and academic underachievement. This problem is especially pernicious in the African American Community, were the paucity of positive male role models is widespread. African American male teachers play an especially important role in the identity formation of young African American boys and girls, who are bombarded with negative stereotypes and courted by unscrupulous role models (drug dealers, rappers, harlots, etc.), (Apple, 1994).

There have been a variegated amount of studies conducted on the effects of hiring male teachers in the elementary grades. Apple (1986) has studied the feminization of the early grades for decades and always saw it as an area of concern.  In his historical study, Wanted: 20,000 Male First Grade Teachers, Vairo (1969) states that one of the most critical issues that face elementary schools is the scarcity of male teachers and faculty (Vairo, 1969). In recent years parents have been especially instrumental in asking for more male teachers in the classroom. Parents (especially mothers) want their children to see that men can be nurturing and caring (Galley, 2000).

To date their have been only a few studies that examine the perceptions of both sexes regarding the factors that influence the recruitment and retention male early childhood teachers. This study also aims to provide educational stakeholders (administrators, community leaders, policy makers, etc.) with techniques that can be used to recruit and subsequently retain African American males in the classroom.

Matthew Lynch