Last month, five historically black colleges and universities joined a national consortium to help train black males for increased interest and participation in secondary teaching as a career option. Along with preaching and farming, education remains one of the original three industrial training modules that are at the core of HBCU academic strength.
Even with all of our advancements in the sciences and humanities, it is clear that government, foundations, and private corporations are interested in finding a new age approach to a crisis level problem in the United States; how do we make an increasingly poor citizenry smart enough to qualify for and perform jobs in a variety of sectors, which will become more technologically based in the next 25 years?
More importantly, how do we do this without taxpayers paying for it?
Fortunately, HBCUs are uniquely positioned to meet the growing domestic needs at its weakest points. In black communities nationwide, there is a dire need for more minority teachers, especially men. This means that states should be looking at the campuses and communities where men, especially black men, are likely to be socially and culturally primed for a career in education, in spite of the lingering cultures of industrial discrimination?
Dozens of HBCUs have strong teacher training programs, and with the right kind of partnerships with philanthropic organizations and school districts, these schools can develop the scholarship resources, marketing strategies and training modules to attract more black men to these fields.
But HBCUs shouldn’t stop at the prospect of building wider teacher pipelines. They should also look to these same resources to develop stronger possibilities for black men and women to charter secondary schools. Every day, the Department of Education is building towards new policies which will divest federal funds from secondary school districts. This means that public education, already fighting to keep its head above water and students at some level of competitiveness, will get worse while privately held companies offering charter school education will be the companies that will receive federal grants and funding for education.
Degree programs should not only be shaped by the development of pedagogy but business models and case studies on charter school education. This is how HBCU education graduates will have the opportunity to thrive in a climate where public funds are disappearing, but public demand for high achieving students will increase.
It is an idea that several schools like Florida A&M and Southern have piloted through lab schools. It is something the Thurgood Marshall College Fund tried to expand four years ago, with its efforts to build a charter school in New Orleans.
And its something other schools should look to build, as the federal government pushes school choice, as public coffers run dry, and as the need for black educators will increase over the next few years.