Philadelphia Man Creates Pipeline to Increase Number of Black Teachers in U.S. Classrooms

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, only 7 percent of teachers in the U.S. are Black, a problem veteran educator, Sherif El-Mekki, is trying to improve with the Center for Black Educator Development (CBED).

Launched in 2019, CBED was the brainchild of El-Mekki, who spent 26 years teaching and serving as a principal in Philadelphia before being awarded $300,000 by Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris to kickstart the program.

CBED sole purpose is to build a national pipeline for Black educators by recruiting Black high school and college students from across the country, building on their interest in teaching and social justice.

“A big part of that is engaging high school and college youth and helping them connect the dots between educational justice and racial justice around activism and the purest form of activism is by teaching Black children well,” said El-Mekki.

The 12-year program offers in-person and virtual mentorship and paid apprenticeships and provides real-life classroom experience for students while earning a teaching degree. The program also provides financial support for new teachers who completed the program during their first four years of teaching.

Since the program began, they’ve worked with 450 high school students and 70 college students and are working to continue growing their participants.

A 2018 study from John Hopkins University and American University found that Black students who have one Black teacher are more likely to go to college. The study also says, having at least one Black teacher in elementary school reduced the chances of dropping out of school by 29% among low-income Black students and by 39 percent for very low-income Black boys.

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Black Star, Kavontae Smalls