In New York City, just 8 percent of public school teachers are men of color — and Mayor Bill de Blasio is setting out to change that through a new program called NYC Men Teach.
NYC Men Teach has a budget of $16 million to recruit 1,000 new male teachers of color from around the country to the city's public school system by 2018. Women, regardless of race, are not part of the program.
"In a city where the majority of the 8.4 million inhabitants are people of color, it is important that such diversity is reflected in New York City classrooms," the program's website noted. "Diverse cultures, perspectives, and realities are the backbone of our great city, and increased understanding of the rich diversity in our city affects every aspect of our daily lives."
According to an article de Blasio wrote for CNN Money, 85 percent of the students in New York's public school system are black, Latino or Asian, while only 40 percent of the teachers have the same racial backgrounds. The gap is worse for boys of color, who make up 43 percent of students, while just 8 percent of teachers are men of color.
"By providing role models who can help mentor these teachers, NYC Men Teach is poised to improve the lives of boys of color by investing in the personal and professional success of men of color," the mayor wrote.
NYC Men Teach recruits diverse and inexperienced men to New York City for a series of workshops and training programs to prepare them for the teaching world of the city's public school system. Each member of the program is partnered with current teachers to learn how to work efficiently in a classroom environment. The program also offers a paid summer program to help recent college graduates support themselves financially until they can begin their teaching careers, according to the CNN Money column by de Blasio.
The Atlantic reported that program recruiters have traveled as far as Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia to speak to students at colleges with large black student bodies. Also, the program has reached out to Teach For America, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen educational equality by helping men of color without teaching degrees earn alternate teaching certificates.
New York is not alone is addressing a gap between minority student and male teacher populations in public schools. About two-thirds of states nationwide have incorporated minority recruitment programs for teachers, The Atlantic stated.
Research has shown that a diverse team of teachers can create a more positive outcome for diverse children in an educational environment, de Blasio wrote for CNN, as "teachers who share cultural backgrounds with their students can help soothe tense classroom climates, reducing suspension rates and keeping kids in school."
However, teachers of color are more likely to switch schools or leave the teaching profession, The Atlantic noted from a report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, which also found nonwhite teachers are more likely to end up teaching in schools with a high number of poverty-level students.
"In other words, the data indicate that minority teachers are employed at higher rates in schools serving disadvantaged students, but also depart at higher rates because these same schools tend to be less desirable as workplaces," the report stated. "The tragedy is that the success of minority teacher recruitment efforts has been undermined."