Teaching Profession Opinion

It’s a (Weak) Start

By Richard Whitmire — June 26, 2010 1 min read
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Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with his entire department, continues to ignore the school gender gaps. As far as I know, there’s no research in the pipeline regarding either the gap or “solutions” such as single-sex classrooms. Now, however, Duncan has picked a “solution” without even mentioning the problem: putting more black men into classrooms.

That’s a good idea. It certainly can’t hurt. South Carolina’s Call Me Mister program is worth a look. I spoke before them recently and challenged the aspiring teachers by saying that placing a black male face in the classroom is insufficient. All teachers, whether black or white, male or female, have to understand why boys are failing.

The schools I profile in Why Boys Fail that succeed with boys, including black boys, don’t rely on the strategy of recruiting more black males. Having a black role model in schools is great, but relying on that as a strategy is iffy. Aside from the reality that black male college graduates have far more lucrative opportunities than teaching, thereby limiting the supply, the research suggests that the race/gender of the teacher at the front of the classroom makes only modest differences.

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The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.