BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — In education, diversity matters. In a study conducted by a partnership between Kern High School District's Project BEST and the California State University, Bakersfield Department of Teacher Education, it was found that having black male educators in the classroom offers various positive effects.
"Project BEST is a partnership between the Kern High School District, California State University, Bakersfield, the local business community, parents, and students. It is privately funded and financially administered by the Kern High School District Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization."
The goal of Project BEST is to find able young African-American men and with the organization's help, get them through college preparatory programs, encourage academic success, and get them into college.
Everything from doing well in classes, fewer suspensions, and an increased likelihood of staying in school, can be directly connected to the diversity of teachers, specifically the importance of having a black male educator at an earlier age.
CSUB lecturer Dr. David Sandles said that representation matters in terms of creating possibility.
Sandles, with the help of the Department of Teacher Education, came up with a way to curve the lack of black male educators in the classroom, and improve the number of black teachers, as well as the impact such a climate would have on the students affected.
Dr. Sandles also commented on the benefits black children would have in the classroom, had they encountered a black teacher sooner. According to Sandles, most students don't encounter a black male educator until high school. Getting more black men in the classroom could fix this issue.
Sandles explains that had he encountered a black male teacher starting in middle school, he might have had someone he could more closely relate to, solidifying the idea that representation in a classroom does make a difference.
Most black male teachers do not decide to teach at the elementary school level, something Dr. Sandles sees as a setback.
One point of the initiative is to start recruiting black men starting in elementary school. Something Dr. Sandles explains relies heavily on the overall presence and regularity at school recruiting events.
"Role models are missing for underserved populations," said Dr. Sandles.
Dr. Sandles wants black men to consider teaching as a possibility. Through more knowledge and instruction he thinks more men would consider this career having learned vital information they may not have known before.
One way of spreading this knowledge is an annual symposium hosted by the CSUB detailing what it takes to be a teacher, the process, and the benefits of a black male's presence in a classroom.
On January 21st, the symposium will be virtual and have California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond as a key speaker.
Last year's symposium hosted 300 students total, with only 30 of them having had a black male educator ever and only three having had more than one.
Dr. Sandles made it clear, in this recruiting initiative, anyone who is remotely good at teaching should consider education as a career choice.