Mario Shaw is a 7th grade teacher at Charlotte's Ranson Middle School and a Teach for America product. With the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling this Saturday, Shaw wanted to reflect on where things stand today on inequalities in public education.
Perhaps his most important point: Black males make up only 2 percent of U.S. teachers, leaving very few role models for many of the nation's struggling youth.
Here is Shaw's take:
As a teacher, I’m responsible for ensuring that my kids thrive academically. But as an African American male teacher – one of just a few at my school – my responsibilities don’t end here. Many of my students have never had a teacher who looks like them standing at blackboard. Depending on their family situations, some have literally no black male role models in their lives.
We need to encourage more black men to lead in the classroom. My own decision was informed by my experience in school. As hard as I’d worked to get there, I arrived at college behind. As the first in my family to go to college, I had to look beyond my immediate network for help. During this time, I volunteered with the Upward Bound program, where I supported 15 black high school boys and began to recognize the importance of mentorship. From there, I joined Teach For America, an organization committed to taking concrete steps to draw more African American male educators to our highest-need classrooms.