Contact: Denise Pearson, Principal Policy Analyst and Project Director
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
State Policy Leaders Collaborate with HBCUs to
Increase Underrepresented Males in the Teaching Profession
Several southern states and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are partnering with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) to increase the number of underrepresented male teachers. SHEEO was recently awarded a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fund Project Pipeline Repair: Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs (Project Pipeline Repair). The project will engage state policy leaders, educator preparation programs at HBCUs, and partner schools to achieve goals and objectives of the $1.5 million award.
The grant will fund the development and implementation of academic enrichment opportunities to prepare underrepresented male high school juniors and seniors for success in a postsecondary educator preparation program. Project Pipeline Repair aims to reduce students’ need for remedial education in higher education, which can delay graduation and further serve to diminish students’ aspirations to enter the honorable profession of teaching. The project also will expose participating male students to higher education expectations in authentic postsecondary environments while developing important knowledge and skills through direct instruction, mentoring, and technology-assisted personalized learning.
With last year’s passing of the US Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and subsequent teacher preparation regulations, states are encouraged to develop innovative policies and practices that improve student achievement, including those that lead to the preparation of highly qualified teachers who can facilitate the educational success of all children. Project Pipeline Repair recognizes the historical role HBCUs have played in the preparation of African American teachers dating back to the 19th century and sees a critical role for them in the 21st century and beyond.
Although “minorities” represent more than 50% of public school students, less than 20% of the teachers come from communities of color, and only 2% of those are African American men. A diverse teaching corps is important to all students regardless of race or ethnicity. Moreover, the lack of teacher diversity is thought by many to jeopardize the achievement of underrepresented students. Glen Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education in Mississippi, asserts that “we must all band together and figure out how to bring African American men back into the teaching profession.” He is joined by fellow higher education leaders Tim Vick, Maria Markham, Joseph Rallo, and Gary Glenn from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina, respectively, in his commitment to addressing the problem. Participating HBCUs include Tuskegee University (AL), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (AR), Southern University Baton Rouge (LA), Alcorn State University (MS), and Claflin University (SC).
Representatives from the HBCUs and state agencies convened for a planning meeting February 12-15, 2017, to launch Project Pipeline Repair. During the meeting, South Carolina SHEEO, Gary Glenn, reminded everyone that “role models prove that dreams can come true,” while steering committee member, Peggy Valentine from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, stated that the project has the “potential to change the face of future teachers in America.”
SHEEO Principal Policy Analyst and Project Director, Denise Pearson, sees the potential for Project Pipeline Repair to reverse current trends and inform higher education policy and practice. As a former higher education administrator and professor of education at an HBCU, Pearson observed underrepresented male college students aspiring to join the teaching profession confronted by formidable program admission and completion barriers, which included unmitigated achievement gaps.
Pearson believes Project Pipeline Repair is innovative and will achieve outcomes through emphasis on skill development in the essential areas of written and oral communication, critical thinking for problem solving, teamwork, and quantitative literacy, which are among the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ essential six learning outcomes. Donzell Lee, Provost and Executive Vice President at Alcorn State University, stated, “This project will be transformative because we are compelled to act.”
Many HBCUs began as teachers colleges, and as a whole they continue to graduate the majority of African American students with degrees in education. Project Pipeline Repair is a dynamic approach to increasing underrepresented male representation in the teaching profession, and closing academic achievement gaps through state, HBCU educator preparation programs, and partner school collaborations. Anthony Broughton, Assistant Professor at Claflin University, remarked, “This novel initiative would have made a remarkable impact on my trajectory as a minority male teacher.” Project Pipeline Repair aims to shift the trajectory for underrepresented male teachers in the future.
SHEEO is the national membership association of state higher education executive officers who serve as leaders for statewide coordinating and governing boards and other state policy agencies for higher education.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life.