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THE FELLOWSHIP-BMEC PRESENTS

BLACK MALE
EDUCATORS REPORT
PHILADELPHIA, PA

BY VINCENT COBB, MS.ED.


THE FELLOWSHIP-BMEC

THE FELLOWSHIP-BMEC PRESENTS

CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.....................................................................................1
MESSAGE FROM LEADERS WHO AGREE 2% IS NOT ENOUGH.......................2
IN THE GREATER PHILADELPHIA REGION
BLACK MALE EDUCATOR CONVENINGS.........................................................3
K-12 EDUCATION LANDSCAPE........................................................................4
BLACK MALE EDUCATOR STATS.....................................................................5
ADVOCACY & POLICY MAKERS........................................................................6
TEACHER EQUITY AS A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE............................................7
BUILDING A ROBUST PIPELINE......................................................................8
HIGH SCHOOL TO COLLEGE SUPPORTS.........................................................9
RECOMMENDATIONS
OVERVIEW.......................................................................................................10
THE AUTHOR & REFERENCES.........................................................................11

2% IS NOT ENOUGH

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
THE FELLOWSHIP- Black Male Educators Convening
(BMEC) started out as a monthly meetup of 17 Black male
educators in Philadelphia public schools at a black-owned
restaurant in the heart of West Philadelphia, 48th St. Grille.
In 2014, the only goal was to provide a space for conversation
about education landscape issues and the intersection of
race, identity in a predominantly white-run school system.
However, the future of this nascent group held more promise
than just another talk session, true leadership emerged to
address issues to uplift the voices of other Black men and
students of color in Philadelphia public schools and
communities. The following is summary of objectives:
(1) PRACTITIONERS AS PROBLEM SOLVERS
The Black Male Educators Convening is another platform for
Black men practitioners to address a deeply rooted problem of
the low presence of Black men in K-12 public schools and in
leadership. We, The Fellowship-BMEC are nonprofit leaders,
school principals, school administrators and communityschool liaisons who confront and live in the experiences of
public school students every day. The Fellowship-BMEC
represents a unique wave of practitioners working to solve a
problem vs the typical diagnostic academic leadership that
sometimes are out of touch with the realities of urban
communities.
(2) TEACHER EQUITY AS A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE
Currently, Black men make up just 4.56% of public school
teachers in Philadelphia. More concerning, Philadelphia
doubles the nation's average of just 2% of Black men teachers
in the US public school system at-large. This soaring lack of
teacher equity in our nation's public schools can effectively be
called a Black male educator crisis in urban education that
needs serious thought leadership and action to resolve a deep
systemic issue with practitioners, law-makers and systems
leaders.

(3) OUR COMMITMENT


The Fellowship was started to address the small number of
highly qualified and highly effective Black men leading our
classrooms and schools. We have three strategies to do this:
We aim to influence policy. We know that policymakers
need to hear from practitioners in order to make well-informed
decisions. We believe that too often, Black male educators
have not been afforded the opportunity to weigh in on
academic and instructional issues. We aim to amplify the
voices and leverage the experiences of Black male
educators. We intend to serve as effective change agents
that can wield a strong influence in regional and national
educational policies that impact our schools, students,
and communities. We embrace this role.
We want to help expand the pipeline. We believe that
Black youth represent a significant population of our public
schools and these students should see highly effective
reflections of themselves teaching and leading them. We also
believe that all children can benefit from seeing far more
diversity in their teachers. Too many students can go through
a K-16 education and never have interactions with a Black
male educator. That is a problem. Two percent is not enough.
We will convene Black male educators. We know that
because of our small numbers, many Black male educators
are alone in their schools and districts. We know that the
power of networking is real and can be a huge lever in
amplifying our voices, sharing concerns and problem-solving
around it, and collectively developing ourselves as
practitioners. Our collective experiences are to be shared and
used to grow and strengthen our work-accelerating student
achievement in our communities. We want to build
a collaborative network of Black Male Educators and the
convenings are how we do it.

LEADERS WHO AGREE 2% IS NOT ENOUGH


Dr. William Hite
Superintendent of Schools
School District of Philadelphia
Recruiting African American male teachers is an ongoing
challenge. At present, they comprise of only 2% of the teaching
profession. However, all students need a diverse group of highperforming educators.
I am pleased that the Black Male Educators Convening (BMEC)
will launch The Fellowship's focus on diversifying the profession
by addressing issues related to career trajectory, upward
mobility and life cycle. This work will focus on policy and
practices that contribute to under-representation. I fully support
The Fellowship's mission to support the region's efforts to
recruit, retain and support African American male educators.
The [Black Male Educators Convening] is a great way to
ultimately develop support systems aligned to African American
male educators' unique needs.
Pedro A. Rivera
Secretary of Education
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
As you are acutely aware, Pennsylvania's educational
landscape is ever-changing and this includes demographics of
our students and educators. I applaud The Fellowship's
dedication to increasing that diversity of our Commonwealth's
educators, specifically encouraging black males to enter into
the teaching profession.
It is my hope that your initiative will inspire a state wide
discussion so that students in urban, suburban and rural
districts have the opportunity to be educated by a diverse,
dedicated and high quality group of teachers.

*Photo of Dr. Hite taken by James Justin Muir featured in Philly mag

Dr. John B King


US Secretary of Education
United States Department of Education
The Fellowship seeks to inspire more men of color in Philadelphia
to see teaching as a means of achieving social justice. The
Fellowship has hosted several Black Male Educator Convening
events to provide peer support and guidance.
At these gatherings, teachers express a desire to be seen as
experts for their mastery of subjects they teach or for their
innovative teaching, as well as for any special connection they
might have to students. They want to be seen as a resource for
white colleagues to learn how to better support their African
American students.
I encourage school and district leaders to work with their teachers
and other staff members to develop a vision for how to make their
campuses more inclusive by adopting proactive hiring processes,
providing professional support, using a multicultural curriculum and
offering cultural competence workshops for everyone. The burden
to end this tax shouldnt fall only to the people already paying it.
We have strong evidence that students of color benefit from having
teachers who are positive role models, as well as from the
changes in classroom dynamics that result. Teachers of color often
have higher expectations for students of color, are more likely to
use culturally relevant teaching practices, are more likely to
confront racism in their lessons and, yes, also serve as advocates.
But its also important for our white students to see teachers of
color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities.
Breaking down negative stereotypes helps all students learn to live
and work in a multiracial society. Ultimately, the work we can do
together to create opportunity for all students will determine not
only the kind of economy we have and the kind of people we will
be, but also whether we will become the nation we ought to be.

BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING


We will convene Black male educators. We know that because of our small numbers, many Black male educators are alone in their schools and districts. We
know that the power of networking is real and can be a huge lever in amplifying our voices, sharing concerns and problem-solving around it, and collectively
developing ourselves as practitioners. Our collective experiences are to be shared and used to grow and strengthen our work-accelerating student
achievement in our communities. We want to build a collaborative network of Black Male Educators and the convenings are how we do it.

K-12 EDUCATION LANDSCAPE


PHILADELPHIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATS FOR BLACK MALES

130,075 STUDENT
ENROLLMENT
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA

34, 408

BLACK MALE
STUDENTS

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA

57%

BLACK MALE
GRADUATION
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA

60%

BLACK MALE STUDENTS


IN CHARTER SCHOOLS

OF TOTAL PHILADELPHIA PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT POPULATION

INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS FOR BLACK MEN


The reputation of K-12 education field as a white female dominated
profession, ones own perceived educational K-12 experience and the
stereotypes of urban schooling may influence the career choices of
Black male professionals. It is the responsibility of
colleges/universities, PA Department of Education (DOE) and local
school districts to own the severe underrepresentation of Black men
in education as an institutional problem and not a lack of interest for
Black men to play integral roles in the education space. From this
lens, states have a legal responsibility to ensure that the barriers to
access and retention for Black men are addressed through policy
changes, partnerships and informed by voices of highly effective
Black male educators in schools to attract, develop and retain a more
diverse and quality teacher talent pool for PA public K-12 schools.

OUR THEORY OF ACTION is that if Black male educators have a more


prominent voice in education policy, a mobilized network of empowered Black
men in schools and a comprehensive high school to career teacher pipeline
(with resources, coaching and incentives) then we heighten the chances of
high impact on student motivation (especially among Black and Latino boys) to
achieve as well as reimagine more culturally responsive PA K-12 schools. The
goal is to help the PA schools increase the presence of 200 more Black male
teachers by 2020, making the School District of Philadelphia the highest
concentration of Black male teachers in the nation (where 6% of Philadelphia
public school teachers will be Black men). Through community partnerships,
there can be some breakthroughs in research on the additional impact that
Black men bring to the classroom. We know highly effective teaching is the
only proven driver of student achievement but a more diverse teaching force
creates a better quality K-12 educational experience increasing the chances for
students to experience more positive role models and feel more empowered to
succeed.
PA COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES PIPELINE
Traditionally school districts have relied on teacher prep programs for a teacher
pipeline from college to the classroom. However, sobering data on enrollment
and graduation rates of Black male educators indicate the enrollment for
African American males in PA education programs has decreased by 30.5%
since 2010 and even less graduate from these PA colleges/universities with 28
African American men graduating from PA schools in 2014 (PA Department of
Education, 2016). Since 2010 Cheyney University, Lincoln University, and
Temple University account for 59%, 57% and 55% of Black male enrollment in
education programs in PA (PA Department of Education, 2016).
Due to low enrollment and graduation rates for Black males from teacher prep
programs, education advocacy is necessary to help build more teacher
diversity and equity in PA schools with a specific focus on attracting more
males of color to the teaching profession. Researcher Travis Bristol finds
"perhaps if schools can get better at attracting and retaining male teachers of
color, they might also be places where historically marginalized and
traditionally at-risk groups could begin to thrive, too". This indicates a need to
build a comprehensive pipeline from high school to career for promising Black
male candidates.

BLACK MALE EDUCATORS STATS


2014

2016

2014-15

2010-15

ADVOCACY & POLICY MAKERS

We aim to influence policy. We know that policymakers need to hear from practitioners in order to make well-informed decisions. We believe that too often,
Black male educators have not been afforded the opportunity to weigh in on academic and instructional issues. We aim to amplify the voices and leverage the
experiences of Black male educators. We intend to serve as effective change agents that can wield a strong influence in regional and national educational
policies that impact our schools, students, and communities. We embrace this role.

TEACHER EQUITY AS SOCIAL JUSTICE


ADVOCACY FROM THE CLASSROOM & SCHOOLS
The Fellowship sees teaching as a lever for social
justice for all students and in the fight for Black
lives. We believe liberation is tightly intertwined with the
quality of ones education. The Fellowship looks at
educational equity, in all its forms, as the natural baton
handed off to us by Freedom Fighters of yesteryear. We
know with certainty that a great education is not just the Civil
Rights issue of this generation. A great education has
always been a civil right and one of the first rights denied or
trampled on since antiquity. From Frederick Douglass to
Malcolm X to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the
role of education has always been prominent in the fight for
the liberation of our people.
We believe that increasing the percentages of Black male
educators is not just about numbers, but also about mindset,
effectiveness, and improving the education of all children. It
is also about building a broad coalition that values the dire
need for the diversification of our schools educators and
collectively works to make systemic changes.
From the fight for Black Lives, President Barack Obama's
My Brother's Keeper initiative and Dr. John King's recent
Washington Post article on the invisible tax on teachers of
color further highlights the need for a consistent presence of
men of color in our nation's schools. The pathways to
teaching and leadership offer a sustainable impact on
students in K-16 public school experience along with
mentorship and community-based school partnerships. We
find that a conscious Black male educator is a social justice
leader that sees his impact in both relation to the profession
at large and as a transformational advocate for all students-and more specifically boys of color.

Anywhere that there is a severe lack of leadership that


doesn't reflect the perspectives and realities of students,
families and communities, we will continue to undermine the
values of a great educational experience.
The injustices our students face in the world needs the
careful attention of caring adults who can relate and
understand the lived experiences of our youth without labels
and diagnosis.
The Fellowship looks at schools as ground zero in our
collective struggle against this countrys long history
of inequity. Inadequate and inequitable school funding, the
lack of teacher equity, diversity, meaningful professional
development, and teacher leadership are just a few of the
pressure points that have consistently held our students back
from being able to lead and succeed in this ever-changing
world.
The Fellowship-BMEC take our place in the struggle against
the socio-political forces that divide our communities through
policy, lack of investment that continues to underserve black
and brown communities. As with any movement, we aim to
target specific policy barriers through partnerships with local,
state and national policy makers.

BUILDING A ROBUST PIPELINE

We want to help expand the pipeline. We believe that Black youth represent a significant population of our public schools and these students should see highly
effective reflections of themselves teaching and leading them. We also believe that all children can benefit from seeing far more diversity in their teachers. Too
many students can go through a K-16 education and never have interactions with a Black male educator. That is a problem. Two percent is not enough.

HIGH SCHOOL TO CAREER SUPPORTS


THE FELLOWSHIP- Black Male Educators Convening
(BMEC) partners with PA Department of Education, Relay
Graduate School, Education Works, Educators Rising,
Graduate Philly, Teach for America, Philadelphia, School
District of Philadelphia, UPenn GSE and other key partners
in the Philadelphia public school district system to build a
city-wide Black male teacher pipeline. To do this, we must
first work with partnering PA colleges/universities and local
school districts to address the recruitment and low presence
of Black men in teacher prep programs and schools. It is our
aim to help build the capacity of local school districts through
community partners for collective efforts to identify biases in
selection processes, admissions and improve the reach of
school partners.
(1) EDUCATORS RISING- HIGH SCHOOL COURSE
ELECTIVE
In order to increase the number of Black men in schools, we
must provide an opportunity for our young men and boys to
seriously consider the teaching profession. The Fellowship
will partner with Educators Rising and a team of Black male
teachers to develop a year-long curriculum, internships,
summer opportunities and travel to conferences to fully
explore teacher impact, social justice and the power of
teacher effectiveness to transform communities. This course
will be offered as an elective at participating high schools
and led by male teachers of color.
(2) BLACK MALE EDUCATORS RESIDENCY
The Black male teacher residency is an opportunity for first
year to current Black male educators to receive real-time
coaching, resources that will help teachers master content
areas, inspire teacher led capstone projects and mentoring
from veteran teachers. Moreover all residents will receive
professional development on cultural context, addressing
institutional biases and social- emotional support PD for
Black male teachers.

Ultimately, we aim for the residency to expand the impact of


teacher-led initiatives in school communities driven by groups
of highly effective Black male teachers.
(3) RECRUITING ADULT LEARNERS AND
PARAPROFESSIONALS
To ensure that schools are recruiting diverse black male
candidates, there must be other innovative pathways to the
classroom. Namely, Black men from the school
neighborhoods who may not have the academic credentials
but still can make the kind of impact needed for all students.
The Fellowship is proposing a focus on paraprofessionals and
after school program staff as a way for Black men to build
their leadership profile and experience in schools before they
get to the classroom. As these promising candidates gain the
proper work experience, our partners can help guide these
men into academic programs to increase their profile as
"hirable" Black male candidates for schools.
The Fellowship is aware of the financial challenges that
prevent many men from pursuing the academic requirements
to teach. Through our partnership with the PA Department of
Education, we will identify scholarships, college partnerships,
work-study programs, loan forgiveness incentives and funds
to help subsidize costs for promising candidates to attain
certification, praxis support, and a master's degree.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE


After year 1 of listening tours, forming partnerships and direct engagement with a base of 500+ Black male teachers, The
Fellowship recommends a call to action for the following initiatives to help increase the number of highly effective Black male
educators in the Greater Philadelphia region

RECOMMENDATIONS
THE FELLOWSHIP- Black Male Educators Convening
(BMEC): After year 1 of listening tours, forming partnerships
and direct engagement with a base of 500+ Black male
teachers, The Fellowship recommends a call to action for
the following initiatives to help increase the number of highly
effective Black male educators in the Greater Philadelphia
region (including but not limited to):

(2) NATIONAL BLACK MALE EDUCATORS CONVENING


Black male educator convenings help to keep the pulse of our
work relevant through the direct voices of Black men in
schools. Through these convenings, we want to build the kind
of momentum and supportive environments for Black male
educators to thrive. Through Convenings, we will continue to
build out programs, teacher leadership and upward mobility of
Black men. These meetings will help us to manage the
Robust incentives for Black men to teach in schools
Summer school job opportunities for matriculating college students
"leaks" in the pipeline that may need attention and better
Interfacing with the Mayor's Office of Education and Philadelphia
inform our work with colleges/universities, policy-makers, and
groups like Black Male Engagement (BMe), Mayoral Commission on
local school districts. The Convenings helps to put Black men
African American Males (MCAAM), NAACP, MBK, Philly etc.
A campaign to elevate the profession with PSAs and other forms of at the center of the discussion as leaders and not subjects. A
national convening will help to drive attention and talent to the
advertisement targeting high school/college students to strongly
consider fighting for social justice by leading classrooms
Greater Philadelphia region as one of the major cities
A central job referral service and city-wide job fairs for Black men to elevating key issues and best practices for attracting,
teach in the School District of Philadelphia
developing and retaining Black men. The Convenings will
To effectively drive this vision to sustainable action, we
include trainings, forums, PD and strengthening the
recommend a region-wide focus on:
partnerships with state and national leaders on teacher equity
issues.
(1) CITY WIDE BLACK MALE TEACHER PIPELINE
In collaboration with partners, the Fellowship will initiate a
(3) POLICY ADVISORY COUNCIL OF BLACK MEN
city-wide Black male teacher pipeline engaging rising high
EDUCATORS WITH PA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
school juniors and seniors, college students,
The Fellowship realizes the power of engaging policy makers
paraprofessionals, afterschool program staff, first year to
to make the right investments and policy decisions that effect
current Black male educators. This pipeline will include
students, communities, and schools. Policy roundtable
resources, financial incentives and specialized professional discussions with PA Senate leaders will help to sharpen our
development (cultural context, social-emotional support,
work to address institutional barriers to quality education for
mentoring) designed specifically for Black male educators.
students and improving the work conditions for Black men to
The Fellowship will work as consultants to major districts to commit to the work in schools. This policy advisory will help to
improve work conditions for teachers and build the capacity keep partners accountable and inform new legislation and
of local school districts to implement and improve
policy agendas. The Fellowship recommends using the
recruitment, development, and retention practices. Partners council to build an advocacy organization focussed on the
will add to and build out the Black male teacher pipeline for a needs of schools and Black men educators. This platform will
fully endorsed city-wide (and eventually, national) model for also be an opportunity for policy makers to be informed about
attracting and retaining Black men educators. Our collective the causes and effects of underrepresented leadership,
goal is to make Philadelphia a national landmark for Black
under-served students and the impact on student
men to teach and lead schools.
achievement and school neighborhoods.

THE AUTHOR & REFERENCES


SHARIF EL-MEKKI- FOUNDER of THE FELLOWSHIP
Sharif El-Mekki is principal at Mastery Charter
SchoolShoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter in
West Philadelphia. Prior to becoming a principal in 2007, he
was a classroom teacher and later school administrator in
Southwest Philadelphia. He holds a bachelors degree from
Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as a masters degree
and principal certification from Cheyney University.

VINCENT E. COBB II, MS.ED is the Manager of Family &


Community Engagement for Cleveland K-8, Clymer, Pastorius
Mastery Charter School campuses in North Philadelphia.
Vincent also serves as the Co-Founder of BMEC and founding
member of The Fellowship. Vincent holds a bachelor's degree
in policy studies and masters degree in cultural foundation of
education from Syracuse University.
The Fellowship-BMEC LEADERSHIP TEAM
(1) Sharif El-Mekki- Principal, Shoemaker campus
(2) Dr. William Hayes, Principal of East Camden Middle
(3) Jovan Weaver, Principal of John Wister Elementary
(4) Rashiid Coleman, Dean of Students, Douglass
(5) Vincent Cobb, Manager, Family & Community Engagement
THE FELLOWSHIP MEMBERS:
Zachary Epps, Manager, Community Advocacy (SDP)
Aaron Bass, Chief of Schools/ Principal
Dr. Kenneth Waters, Director for Center of Literacy
Robert Parker, High school Teacher Leader
Raymond Roy-Pace, Science Teacher, Grades 4&6
Vance Lewis, Assistant Principal of Operations
Kevin Gold, Teacher
James Brooks, Special Education Teacher
Sterling Grimes, High school Literature teacher

PARTNERS
In year 1, we would like to thank all of our partners who has
helped us to raise the issue of Black men educators. This list
does not represent contribution to this report.
US Department of Education (Office of the Secretary)
Teach to Lead Summit
Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development
National Board of Teaching Standards
PA Department of Education (Office of the Secretary)
Office of PA Senator Anthony Williams
Office of PA Senator Vincent Hughes
School District of Philadelphia
UPenn GSE
Teaching Matters
Educators Rising
Relay Graduate School
Graduate Philadelphia
Teach For America, Greater Philadelphia region
Education Works
Mastery Charter Schools
Boys' Latin Charter School

REFERENCES
Bristol, T.J. (2013). Calling Black Men to the Blackboard.
Albert Shanker Institute.
PA Department of Education data. June 2016 Report

ABOUT US- THE FELLOWSHIP-BMEC

THE FELLOWSHIP- Black Male Educators Convening (BMEC) started out as monthly meet up of 17 Black male educators in Philadelphia public schools at a
black-owned restaurant in the heart of West Philadelphia, 48th St. Grille. In 2014, the only goal was to provide a space for conversation about education
landscape issues and the intersection of race, identity, gender in schools. However, the future of this nascent group held more promise than just another talk
session, true leadership emerged to address issues to uplift the voices of other Black men and students of color in Philadelphia public schools and
communities.