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"Be the Change" Event and Resources Hub
Learn about the impact of Black teachers from three phenomenal educators in this one-hour recorded event. View the video, get the data, hear amazing stories and feel empowered to make your next move.
View the Webinar
"Be the Change" Event and Resources Hub
Learn about the impact of Black teachers from three phenomenal educators in this one-hour recorded event. View the video, get the data, hear amazing stories and feel empowered to make your next move.
View the Webinar

"Teaching is a Revolutionary Act." —Dr. Precious Symonette

A diverse teaching workforce is a direct means to achieving a more equitable society, and increasing the number of Black teachers in our nation's schools is a significant component of promoting anti-racism. As part of this work, TEACH.org invited three of the nation’s top educators to join us for a one-hour event on June 3, 2020: Be the Change: The Impact of Black Teachers and How You Can Join the Profession

The response was overwhelming, with more than 1,800 current and future educators signing up to join the event. And our panelists delivered, with insightful data, inspiring stories, and powerful resources.
 
On this page, we’ve compiled some of the big takeaways from the event for you. If you missed it, you probably want to watch the recording. Or if you were there, watch it again—you won’t regret it. 

1

Meet our Expert Panelists

2

Watch the Recorded Event

3

Get Facts & Resources

4

Get Started on Your Journey

Three Extraordinary Black Educators

  • Dr. John B. King, Jr. is the president and CEO of the Education Trust and served as US Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. He is a former teacher and principal.

    In Dr. King's segment, you'll learn why Black teachers are crucial to all students. He cites studies from Johns Hopkins alongside his own childhood experiences.

  • Dr. Precious Symonette is a 14-year educator with Miami Dade County Public Schools, a professor, CEO of the Florida Freedom Writers Foundation, and the 2016 National Education Association Superhero Educator.

    In her presentation, Dr. Symonette takes you on an emotional journey through her own classroom, illustrating the transformative power of Black teachers for students of color. Then she calls on you to join the profession.

  • Mr. Sharif El-Mekki is the founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development. He was a teacher and nationally acclaimed principal, recognized by President Obama and Oprah Winfrey for accelerating student achievement.

    As a college student, El-Mekki knew he wanted to "dive in to activism." It took an influential Black male teacher and mentor to show him that teaching was the way to make lasting change. 

Watch the Recorded Event

 

Start Your Revolution

Our panelists bring decades of experience in the classroom, advocacy organizations and policy. Here are some of the many facts and data points they cite:

  • African American students who've had an African American teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college—13 percent more likely if they’ve had one African American teacher in elementary school, and over 32 percent, more likely to enroll in colleges if they’ve had two. (Johns Hopkins University)
  • The majority of kids in the nation's public schools are kids of color, but only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, and only 2 percent of our teachers are African American males. (United States Department of Education)
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) prepare 16 percent of all Black teacher candidates. (United States Department of Education)
  • Of the attendees in the Be the Change Event, 37 percent had no Black male teachers throughout their K-12 education. Another 54 percent had fewer than 4.
  • Get the Facts

    Our panelists bring decades of experience in the classroom, advocacy organizations and policy. Here are some of the many facts and data points they cite:

    • African American students who've had an African American teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college—13 percent more likely if they’ve had one African American teacher in elementary school, and over 32 percent, more likely to enroll in colleges if they’ve had two. (Johns Hopkins University)
    • The majority of kids in the nation's public schools are kids of color, but only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, and only 2 percent of our teachers are African American males. (United States Department of Education)
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) prepare 16 percent of all Black teacher candidates. (United States Department of Education)
    • Of the attendees in the Be the Change Event, 37 percent had no Black male teachers throughout their K-12 education. Another 54 percent had fewer than 4.
  • Share These Quotes

    When you get three of the nation's top educators together, the inspiration is nonstop. It's nearly impossible to choose the top quotes (you should definitely watch for yourself). We tried anyway. Here are a few of our favorites.

    Tweet them, post them, shout them from the rooftops.

    Dr. John King, Jr.

    “My main message to all of you is that teaching can be the difference—can be the difference in strengthening our society, expanding opportunity for African American students, and building a better America.”

    “If you get through your education and you are unaware of the history of race in America—if you harbor false racist beliefs—that’s a failure of our education system.”

    “Having diverse teachers makes it more likely that decisions about school curriculum, about how schools are organized, will reflect our diversity as a country. So, I think we can't get out of the situation we are in as a country if we don't address the diversity of our educator workforce.”

    Dr. Precious Symonette

    "Teaching is a revolutionary act."

    "I'm inspired every single day and motivated by my students because I get to bear witness to them learning and falling in love with writing, and learning how to advocate for themselves, for the people they love, and for the things that matter to them." 

    "Black teachers are needed in classrooms, because we have to be there to breathe life into our kids. We have to be there to let them know that they are loved. We have to be there to remind them that they are beautiful, that they are important, that they are worthy and that they are not inferior to any race."

    "To my brothers and sisters who are considering joining the teaching profession: Listen, we want you, we need you, we love you, we are here to help you. Come join this noble profession. Come answer the call to be a freedom fighter. Come stand on the just side of history. Come be a part of the solution and not the problem. Become an educator and invest in children, and help the world to become a better place."

    Mr. Sharif El-Mekki

    "Great teachers don't just impact the students in front of them, they impact those students’ grandchildren and generations to come."

    "Teaching is something that shapes nations and communities. It's one of the best ways to uplift the trajectory of our students. We need people who are going into the classrooms to lead. Not just looking at teaching as teaching content, but leading children, leading communities."

    "Black students typically have a window into everyone else's lives. They see other people's literature, other people's heroes and quotes plastered on the walls. Black children need to have more mirrors— to see images of themselves leading classrooms, leading schools, leading school boards. And white children need to have more diversity in their curriculum, and what they intake and what they breathe in."

  • Find Additional Resources

    Dr. John King, Jr.

    Dr. King is president and CEO of The Education Trust

    Listen

    Follow

    Dr. Precious Symonette

    Dr. Symonette is CEO of the Florida Freedom Writer's Foundation

    Watch

    • Watch Dr. Symonette and her students speak powerfully about using spoken word to have a voice and to heal. And hear her colleagues discuss the vital influence of a superhero educator.

    Learn

     

    Mr. Sharif El-Mekki

    Mr. El-Mekki is founder and CEO of The Center for Black Educator Development.

    Listen

    • Afros, Boxers, Handcuffs, and Guns. In this episode of The Moth, Sharif El-Mekki joined Mmachi Dimoriaku for stories about "Culture and Legacy." Listen to his tale about following in the footsteps of his Black Panther father. 
    • The 8 Black Hands podcast. Check out this weekly podcast on education equity. 

    Read

    Follow

     

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