NYC Men Teach aims to address racial disparities among teachers

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Research has shown that students benefit from being taught by those with similar life experiences.

As part of his Young Men’s Initiative, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced NYC Men Teach, a program designed to increase the number of male teachers of color in the city’s public school system.

According to the NYC website, the YMI was founded in 2011 “to address the increasing economic and social disparities faced by black and Latino young men.”

It is estimated that by 2020 a majority of U.S. children will be youth of color. NYC Men Teach hopes to address this changing diversity in its city’s classrooms by adding an additional 1,000 men of color to the teaching workforce by 2017.

Nationally, only two percent of the teaching workforce in America is made up of black men and 80 percent of the public school teachers in America are women.

In New York black, Latino and Asian men make up only 8.3 percent of NYC public school teachers despite the fact that 43 percent of students in these schools are male students of color.

Last year, the Washington Post reported that men of color are frequently turned off by teaching because of the negative experiences they had in the past. Only six percent of recent applicants for teaching positions in New York schools were men of color.

The $16.5 million dollar initiative will work with the City University of New York to promote teaching as a career and to ensure undergraduate students complete the necessary certifications.

YMI Deputy Executive Director Ifeoma Ike spoke of the challenges faced by the YMI board and their commitment to influencing change within the city.

“Our challenge – to make sustainable improvements for the young people we serve – is great and we need all partners on deck. Change doesn’t occur in silos. It occurs through the collective effort of the determined. We are fortunate to have such an esteemed board, and are looking forward to what our collective efforts produce,” Ike said.

The board believes a more diverse field of teachers will promote better academic performance and break down stereotypes.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery explained that the future of the city’s youth population and the city itself benefits from a more diverse teaching workforce.

“Each member appointed to the YMI Board knows that it’s not only the future of these young men at risk, but the future of our city. I’m excited to work with the YMI board on strategies that get beneath the surface of the issues our black and Latino men are facing and into solutions that will significantly change their lives and our city for the better,” Buery said.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio is hopeful that the YMI board will continue to work hard to promote diversity in the city’s schools.

“I am confident that this Board will continue to advance the YMI mission, and will serve as an ambassador in sharing the message that we can and will improve the environments and experiences of black and Latino young men throughout NYC,” de Blasio said.

Phil Vallone

Phil is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Journalism. He is also a Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2013. He covers events and activism at CUNY. After graduating, he plans to cover politics and activism around the world. You can follow him on Twitter @philvallone or on Facebook at Contact him at philvallo[at]

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