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How do you recruit more Black male teachers? Cleveland principal wins $5,000 for her idea, ‘Read Like Me’

Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com |

Only 2 percent of U.S. teachers are Black men. In the Cleveland school system, that percentage is about 3% at the elementary level and 4% at the high school level, though the student population is about 66% Black.

That’s why Kidner came up with the program “Read Like Me,” which will pay Black male students to lead reading groups and programs for younger children in the district, after training them over the summer. She pitched “Read Like Me” at the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Accelerate event in February, and won the top prize and $5,000 for her idea.

The program would be the first paid professional experience most of these students have, which is important, Kidner said.

“When I look at my student data, when they put in some of the career fields they’re interested in and start doing some of their research, none of my male students want to be educators,” she said. “Definitely none of my Black male students want to be educators. … A real key piece of that is they have never been asked to be in that kind of field, and they’ve never imagined them doing this kind of work.”

Research has shown the effects of having Black teachers and Black male teachers in the classroom. Learning from at least one Black teacher in third through fifth grades significantly lowered a Black student’s risk of dropping out, according to 2017 Johns Hopkins University study. That change was about 29%.

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