Organization pushes to get more Black male teachers in Minnesota classrooms

Organization pushes to get more Black male teachers in Minnesota classrooms

Organization pushes to get more Black male teachers in Minnesota classrooms

A local organization is launching a coalition to get more Black male teachers in the classroom to help close the achievement gap.

Minnesota has one of the worst achievement gaps in the country. Black Men Teach, a Twin Cities organization, is hoping diversifying the classroom can change that.

“We can easily fit every Black male elementary school teacher in the state in our office right now,” Markus Flynn, Black Men Teach executive director, said.

State data shows less than half of one percent of teachers in Minnesota are Black men — Flynn was one of them.

“I taught at a school that was majority Black, and I saw how my kids responded, not just socially, but academically as well. My kids performed well,” Flynn said. “We can connect just based on the fact that they felt like I look like them and I understood them.”

Flynn said the answer to closing education gaps is rooted in representation.

Research shows seeing someone who looks like you in a classroom setting can set kids up for success by increasing the likelihood of higher test scores, graduating and staying out of trouble.

“The data is robust. The evidence is strong,” Flynn said.

Black Men Teach is using that data to launch a coalition made up of at least 11 different institutions and organizations.

In about 100 elementary schools in the state, the goal is to increase the proportion of Black male elementary teachers to 20%.

The organization is focusing on schools with 40% or more Black students. 

“We have to link arms with people that have influence and that can affect systematic change. We need everyone at the table that has an impact directly or indirectly on the trajectory of Black men becoming teachers,” said Black Men Teach director of partnerships Shanene Herbert. “From colleges and universities to school districts to foundations to people that are responsible for teacher licensure, all the way to legislators and lawmakers.”

Metro State University is one of the partners in the coalition.

“This just gives every child the chance to achieve their full potential,” Virginia Arthur, Metro State University president, said. “We can make a significant difference, one that’s never been made before in Minnesota.”

The group has several strategies to reach their goal, such as sparking a teaching interest in elementary students, offering college-level classes to high schoolers and recruiting college students to enter the career field.

Education leaders said this multi-faceted approach has never been taken in Minnesota and they’re confident it will produce results. 

“We’ve got people who are looking to push this effort forward and so we’re excited to be a part of the movement,” Flynn said.

The coalition is also focusing on supporting Black males who are currently teachers with financial support, mental health resources and professional development to retain staff.

The plan is to achieve these goals by 2034.

Members of the coalition include leadership from Education Minnesota, PELSB, Metro State University, University of Minnesota, Saint Thomas, Minneapolis College, Wallin Education Partners, Great Minnesota Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, St. Paul Public Schools, Serve Minnesota and more.

The organization is accepting donations to help fulfill their goals.