Thursday, April 22, 2021

A Powerful Call To Teach

Sharif El-Mekki is the founder of the Center for Black Educator Development, a group that's doing important work. He blogs at Philly's 7th Ward, and recent post is worth attention. 

I suspect that El-Mekki and I disagree on some education issues, but his view of the teaching profession is inspiring and powerful. Here's a bit from the post "Why We Need Black Men (And Women) To Answer The Call And Teach." El-Mekki is addressing the need for Black men in the classroom, which sits on my list of public education issues in urgent need of being addressed. But in the process, he also tells us about the power of the profession itself.

If more men realized the power of leading a classroom—how it is the most important lever in this fight for social justice and equity, and both challenges and offers uniquely amazing rewards—more highly qualified and gifted Black male educators would sign up to do this nation building. Many who could be Freedom Fighters are searching for how to make an impact, and most are encouraged not to lead in classrooms and schools. This must change.

It is up to all of us to pose the questions: If you want to have the largest, most sustained impact on society, why not teach? Do you believe in lifting as you climb? You view yourself as a follower of the Black radical tradition? Pro-Black? Revolutionary? Anti-Racist? Pro-community? Do you love Black children, community, and a content area?

What a question-- If you want to have the largest, most sustained impact on society, why not teach?

El-Mekki is not a dewy-eyed newbie; he started teaching in 1993 (here's how he got there). He's had more than enough time to settle down into the common head-bowed stance of someone who calls themselves "just a teacher." That clearly has not happened. 

I'm no fan of the myth of the hero teacher or the martyr teacher, but I never would have entered the profession if I hadn't believed in a teacher's power to change a small chunk of the world. It is good to remember that even in the midst of pandemics, bad policy, top-down foolishness, and just general disrespect, a classroom still boils down to a teacher and some students and the fire she can bring to that chunk of time. 

1 comment:

  1. Why not incentivize the entry of Blacks into the teaching profession (in Title 1 schools) through a federal tax credit program:

    Year #1: $2,000 tax credit
    Year #2: $3,000 tax credit
    Year #3 $5,000 tax credit
    Year #4: Teach tax free as long as they remain in the district

    This program would not cost local districts anything. Now is the time to propose this as the political climate seems ready willing and able.