Bowie State University in Prince George’s County, one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is the oldest HBCU in the state of Maryland. Founded in 1865, Bowie State is one of the 10 oldest HBCUs in the country. It is now also reportedly the first HBCU selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program.
The funding, to exceed $1.5 million over four years, will support the Bowie Black Male Educators Project.
Boosting the Number of Black Male Educators
There is a major need for Black male teachers in the U.S. education system. Black male teachers made up just 1.3 percent of all teachers in K-12 grades in the 2020-2021 school year, according to data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey. They are the second least-represented demographic in teaching, with Asian men representing just 0.5 percent of all teachers.
Bowie’s Black Male Educators Project aims to increase the number of Black male teachers who are prepared to work with early childhood, elementary, secondary and special education students — with knowledge, understanding and skills in English for Speakers of Other Languages.
The money will be used to recruit and prepare 50 Black male educators in the areas of early education, special education, elementary or secondary education. The program will allow Black male teachers to become ESOL certified. The program’s curriculum will reflect “up-to-date research in the areas of race, ethnicity, culture, language, disability, technology, and other experiential learning modes,” according to the institution.
Julius Davis, who is a professor in the school’s College of Education, founded the BSU Black Male Educators Project in 2019. According to Davis, it continues to be a challenge to attract Black men to the teaching profession.
“It’s no secret that Black male teachers are in short supply,” Davis told NBC Washington, D.C. “Blacks comprise 6 percent of all teachers and black men are less than 2 percent. This grant will enable us to recruit and prepare 50 Black male educators in early childhood/special education, elementary or secondary education who can provide culturally relevant instruction and work with students and families.”
He continued, “Through our program redesign, we’ll create a pathway for Black male teachers to become certified in ESOL to meet the changing demographics in our schools.”
There is a teacher shortage all across the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2022 School Pulse Panel, which reports that four in 10 schools with more than 75 percent minority populations have multiple teaching vacancies.
There is a benefit for students being taught by someone of the same identity. A study from the National Bureau of Labor Economics shows that if taught by at least one Black teacher in elementary school, Black boys are likelier to graduate high school and enroll in college.
Augustus Freeman Hawkins
The U.S. Department of Education’s Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program is named after the first Black representative elected west of the Mississippi River. He was the first African-American to represent California in the U.S. Congress. He served from Jan. 3, 1963, to Jan. 3, 1991. The program was formed to increase the number of minority educators by expanding and reforming teacher education programs at minority-serving institutions.
The program awards eligible institutions funds to boost their teacher preparation programs. Eligible institutions must feature a teacher preparation program, in addition to meeting the Higher Education Opportunity Act criteria as a school serving a majority minority student body.