If you travel back to the year 1927, you are bound to stumble upon Crispus Attucks High School, one of Indianapolis’ historic gems. Crispus Attucks was located in the heart of Indianapolis. Prior to its founding, only three public high schools enrolled Black students during these racially segregated times: Emmerich Manual, Arsenal Technical and Shortridge High Schools. Overcrowding, especially at Shortridge, led Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board members to begin discussions and eventually vote on the construction of a new high school, Crispus Attucks.
The first principal of Crispus Attucks was Matthias Nolcox, Ph.D. Nolcox was determined to create Indianapolis’ only all-Black high school. During this time, white universities did not hire Black educators with advanced degrees. Dr. Nolcox saw this racial barrier as an opportunity and he diligently recruited a cadre of teachers from local and regional HBCUs. Dr. Nolcox expanded his search even further and recruited high school educators from all over the country.
But after a few decades of school success, the national landscape shifted. In 1954, after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, white superintendents made attempts to integrate public schools and a large percentage of Black teachers and administrators resigned or were demoted due to racial discrimination. These changes ultimately precipitated a massive reduction in the Black teacher population in Indianapolis and nationally.
Fast forward to 2020, the Black teacher population stands at 7%, while white women compose 76% of the teacher workforce. The limited diversity and cultural mismatch among students and teachers and administrators, has substantial and often long-term effects (eg. prison to school pipeline). Based on 2014 U.S Department of Education Civil Rights data, the state of Indiana ranks number two in the highest percentage of out of school suspensions for Black males compared to any state in the nation. Only one state, Wisconsin, suspends a higher percentage of Black males than Indiana.
On the other hand, recent studies suggest that Black students who have a Black teacher in grades K-3 are 7% more likely to graduate from high school and 13% more likely to enroll in college than their peers in the same school who are not assigned a Black teacher. Race and culture matter.
To build a community of teachers who mirror the students they teach, we must be more intentional about building awareness, engagement and enrollment in the education field amongst people of color and that is where the Educate ME Foundation comes in!
Educate ME is an Indianapolis-based social enterprise with a mission to increase the number of educators of color in urban schools, starting with Indiana, by inspiring high school cadets, developing college students and recruiting career professionals to enter the education field. With our deliberate recruiting programs, strategic partnerships and teacher support we envision that we will play a significant role in ensuring schools across Indianapolis and the nation will have effective teachers of color who reflect the student population they are serving.
We are creating opportunities for the college graduates and professionals to think about and consider a career in education. Maybe it’s in the classroom, early learning center, an after school program, or a service provider, whichever role you think you can serve, this may be a calling and we are here to help you.
For more information, please visit our website, www.educatemefoundation.org.