NEW ORLEANS, LA — A newly released study reveals that there is a 30% drop in aspiring teachers in Louisiana. Further alarming is the lack of diversity in the K-12 classroom –23.5% of teachers in Louisiana are Black and of that number only 5% are Black men.

The findings, compiled by the 17-member Teacher Recruitment, Recovery and Retention Task Force, were presented during a joint meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Board of Regents. The panel said one goal for both BESE and the Board of Regents should be more diversity in the classroom.

Brothers Empowered to Teach is a solution.

Starting as an idea in 2012, BE2T is an organization recruiting and training Black men to become teachers in Louisiana while working to return the prestige and honor to the profession. Through innovative programming, mentorship and paid fellowships, BE2T is increasing the number of Black male teachers in United States public schools — starting with Louisiana.  

Research shows that just 1 Black male teacher in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade for young Black men substantially decreases his chances of dropping out of high school by 40%.

This is the message of BE2T Co-founder and CEO, Larry Irvin Jr.’s TED Talk: A program to empower Black teachers in the US.Released last month, Irvin’s talk is at nearly 800,000 views.

“We are in such a pivotal moment in education, and I hope this talk further ignites the discourse around teacher training, development, and demographics. My own personal leadership journey is parallel to the struggles of Black men in education. Most times our value assessment starts from a deficit, and we work upward from there,” said Irvin, a rising education thought leader and 2021 TED Fellow.

Irvin has been holding a series of conversation on the subject via Instagram LIVE. So far, he has talked with Jamar McKneely, CEO of InspireNola network and acclaimed educator, researcher and author, Lisa Delpit, Ph.D.

Andre Perry, senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, said: “As a former school network leader, professor and researcher within a college of education in New Orleans, I know too well the value of Black teachers, particularly male educators. For years, researchers such as Gloria Ladson-Billings, Pedro Noguera, Lisa Delpit, Adrienne Dixson, Christopher Emdin, and James A. Banks — all people of color — validated the need for Black teachers in New Orleans schools through their studies on teachers of color.

“Their scholarship serves as the foundation for inquiries like one by Stanford University researcher Thomas Dee who, the year before Katrina, found that Black students of both sexes who had a Black teacher scored 3 to 6 percentile points higher on standardized tests in reading than those who did not. Dee found a similar increase in the math scores of Black students taught by a Black teacher. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the city realized a significant decline in Black teachers, throttling academic growth. I saw up close how Brothers Empowered to Teach developed interest and talent, nurturing a pool of male teachers that would not have existed otherwise. BE2T provided candidates with technical, cultural and professional supports to maximize outcomes for students and themselves. I fully support BE2T efforts of getting more Black men in the classroom.” 

For more information, contact jewel bush at jewelmariebush@gmail.com or (504) 610-3003.