Man Up Fellowship working to increase black male teachers by 2023

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is a shortage of black men teachers within Shelby County Schools.

District officials say the administration is working to recruit and retain more black men teachers this year but they have faced some hurdles.

SCS told FOX13, 30 African American men have been promoted or have retired due to COVID-19.

While 30 may not sound like a lot at first, the district said only about 12 percent of all SCS teachers are black men.

“That actually changed my perspective,” said Brandon Boone, Man Up Fellow. “By the time, I got to college I was like “Wait a second? Black men can be teachers?”

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The Man Up Fellowship is working to change that perspective in Shelby county.

The Memphis based nonprofit has been paying for master's degrees and teaching certifications for its fellows since 2018.

The fellowship’s founder, Dr. Patrick Washington said their work is even more critical this year as the city grapples with racial tensions during a global pandemic.

“It’s causing men of color to think ‘you know what I always wanted to teach but I just kind of settled for this job maybe this is an avenue for that,’ and that’s exactly what Man Up is, it’s an avenue for those who want to teach but may not know which step they should take first,” said Washington. 

This week, 25 more men started the Man Up fellowship program.

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“It’s so important for us to continue as teachers to impact our scholars because history is being made and they have to know that they apart of that history and they can change that trajectory, and we can change that trajectory in their lives,” said Mario Hoyle, one of the latest Man Up fellows.

Washington said he has secured funding through 2023 but he has a waiting list of 30 men who want to join the program now. He said if they had more funding, they could help close these gaps even sooner.

“Unlike other residency programs, over 95 percent of the come to us goes directly, the money goes directly into supporting, recruiting and placing these men so there’s not a lot of overhead, it’s about keeping the pipeline full of quality, passion driven men,” he said.

Last fall, Shelby County Schools had a goal of hiring 50 new African American male teachers for kindergarten to 5th grade by 2020.

The district said they’re have reached almost 40 percent of that goal and hey also have a partnership with the University of Memphis to increase those numbers

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Additionally, FOX13 received this statement SCS Equity Officer Dr. Michael Lowe:

We have hired a total of 72 African American male teachers in grades K-12, but the bulk of them have filled secondary school positions. To date, we have hired roughly 19 African American males in grades K-5 which is 38% of our goal of 50.

Ten new African American male teachers in grades K-5 will complete the District’s on-boarding and background vetting process this week.

In light of the pandemic, 30 African American males have been promoted or have retired due to COVID 19. 

Our Office of Equity and Access department created the “Secure The Chalk " fellowship which is SCS’s professional organization dedicated to advancing the recruitment, development and retention of Black male educators. We have also has made strategic partnerships with the University of Memphis “I AM A Man…I Teach” program