Prince George’s (PG) County, Maryland adjacent to the Nation’s capitol prides itself on being the most affluent county for African Americans in the United States. According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey the average income in the county is almost double the national average for black families. Despite PG County being the wealthiest place for blacks, there is a significant discrepancy between the “well to do” county and it’s education system. To this point, Prince George’s County Public Schools ranks 23rd out of 25 Maryland school districts. The two school districts ranking lower than PG County are Baltimore City Public Schools (home of the wire) and The Seed School of Maryland (new public boarding school in Baltimore with less than 250 students), which just opened in August of 2008. In essence, PG County schools are the second worst school district in the State of Maryland only last to Baltimore City schools.
These statistics hit home for me because I am a product of the Prince George’s County Public School System (PGCPS). The elementary school that I attended from Pre-K through 6th grade is now closed due to financial and economic hardships. In my matriculation through my elementary school, I can only recall two African American males in the building, one teacher – Mr. English and the janitor (Oscar). Many of my peers did not have father figures in their lives, consequently they rarely had any male presence in their lives (outside of uncles, brothers, etc). To my dismay (at the time), my father frequently made appearances in his “African Bambataa” sweat pants to the school to “help out”. He was there in the morning to help with bus duty, he often chaperoned our field trips and other school functions, and at times served as a disciplinarian, all the while supporting his own family and working multiple jobs. My dad realized the importance for all the black male students in my school to see a positive African American male figure.
As a School Psychologist working in school districts, I now understand the importance of having African American male figures that can serve as positive models in schools. During my internship year, I worked in an elementary school in which there was only one male teacher (Caucasian) and myself and I was only at the school twice a week. This meant that the majority of teachers in this particular elementary school were all white female teachers, yet the majority of the student population was about 75% African American. These numbers can often be generalized across many urban settings. Their is an absolute dire need for black men in the field of education.
This is my personal challenge to black men in America. Go in to the field of Education!! Even further, go to college, even further go to high school (Big ups to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated – Go to High School, Go to College, program)! What are you doing to uplift the black community? What are some of your opinions of why there is a lack of black men in the field of education?