By Courtney Connley
Last fall, Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to several historically black colleges and universities in hopes of increasing the number of Black male teachers in America’s public school system.Today he is on a mission to do the same with Latino men due to the dire need for minority male teachers in the education system.
Less than a month ago, Duncan traveled with Spike Lee to Morehouse College in Atlanta to talk to a room of young Black men about continuing their education and working to educate others.
“We have more young black people in prison than enrolled in colleges and universities. That’s a frightening number,” Lee told the audience as he stressed the need for Black male teacher influences.
Duncan reports that less than 2% of teachers in the United States are Black men and he tells CNN that combined African American and Latino males make up roughly 3.5% of all teachers nationwide.
Samantha Link, a senior- broadcast journalism major agrees in there being a need for more diversity in the teaching system, expressing the rarity ofBlack and Latino male teachers.
“I’ve only had one Latino male professor and never a Black male professor,” Link said.
Link said she was raised in Livingston, NJ- a town with little diversity and said that in high school she had mostly female, all white teachers. She was surprised by the diversity of University of Maryland’s student body, but has noticed that UMD faculty is not as diverse.
Many people believe that the lack of Black and Latino male teachers in the academic arena can be linked to Black and Latino youth leading in America’s numbers for high school drop outs.
Jihan Asher, a junior- history major said that she is pleased with Arne Duncan efforts and thinks that diversity is definitely needed in the school system.
“I think diversity in education, especially in high schools where African American and Latino matriculation is low, is actually essential,” Asher says. “When you are not being taught by those who have similar experiences to you, it can affect you.”
Parry Sohrabi, senior, criminal justice major agrees with Asher saying that “people with different backgrounds bring different views into teaching.”
“To have a homogenous setting of all white females going into teaching may be uncomfortable for some because they don’t come from that background,” Sohrabi adds.
Duncan is also using his visits to promote the federal TEACH campaign, which is a program that was launched in the fall to help persuade more minorities, particularly males, to go into teaching.