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Alabama A&M University program recruits Black male students to become teachers

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s a rarity in education, some students go through their entire education without ever having or even seeing a Black male teacher. Alabama A&M University is leading the charge to put Black males into classrooms as teachers.

While addressing the teacher shortage overall as an issue, the university is addressing the diversity issue at the same time.

Former Alabama A&M basketball star Rakiya Battle is a high school basketball coach because he loves to teach.

“I love being around kids, I love mentoring kids, I love helping kids,” Battle told News 19.

Battle said growing up without the presence of a father he had a lot of male mentors that changed his life.

“I figured that there are a lot of kids out there that share the same story as me so I decided that I would love to be a mentor,” he said.

Battle is a recent graduate of the Males of Alabama Education Initiative (MALE), a program out of Alabama A&M that trains and supports Black male teachers. Minority American teachers account for 17% of all U.S. public school teachers, only about 2%a are Black males.

Samantha Strachan, an education coordinator at Alabama A&M, said “When you have a diverse teacher population, all students benefit from that. We think that it’s important to place teachers in the classroom with a diverse background, with diverse experiences.”

Slightly more than half of all public schools in Alabama have students of color. Recruiting and retaining more Black males to be teachers like Battle can only help bridge achievement gaps.

“We’ve had several seminars where we get on Zoom, we talk about mental health and things that can help us not only as teachers but as Black males.” Battle explained. “So just being a part of the program being able to learn something while school is being paid for in a program like this is just amazing.” 

A study by the Institute of Labor Economics reports that low-income black students who have a black male teacher for at least one year in grade school are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to consider going to college.

The MALE program at Alabama A&M is looking to continue to place male teachers of color in the classrooms.

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