No man should stand alone

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The importance of having a teaching pool that reflects the diversity of our nation's students was highlighted in a recent speech by Arne Duncan where he stated that "All of our children benefit when they see more teachers of color and minority men in front of them in their classrooms."

We know that black men are especially underrepresented in the teaching profession. Research by Travis Bristol and Ron Ferguson shows that, as with other teacher shortage issues, the problem may be more one of retention than recruitment. That may not seem like news, but they also identify a key factor that makes the difference in getting black male teachers to stay: other black male teachers.

They found a marked difference in retention depending on whether there were multiple black male teachers within the same school. Solitary black men within a school were more likely to want to leave their current school and were more likely to have taught in multiple schools during their career, while black men who taught in the same school as other black men (four or more) were content at their schools and less likely to have moved around.

We know that working conditions matter a lot to teacher retention. The clear implication of this research is that schools should try to ensure that no man stands alone.