Alabama A&M is trying to put more African-American males at the head of the class.
The US Department of Education says African-American men make up 2 percent of the teaching workforce nationwide, and 82% -percent of teachers male and female are white.
Cedric Jackson didn't grow up thinking he'd be a teacher. He had dreams of playing in the NFL, but an injury cut that short and eventually led him to Discovery Middle School were he's the head football coach and teaches career prep.
"I started coaching at Lee High School back in '04, '05 and once I did that I got into being a substitute teacher," Jackson said.
Jackson's mother died when he was 8, and he didn't have a close relationship with his father. He says he found his mentors in the classroom and football field.
"It was a lot of black role models and white and different nationalities that came in and just fulfilled that void that was in my life," he said
The same mentoring he got as a kid is what he tries to give his students at Discovery Middle.
"Once I got into the school system I began to see how important my role was overall," he said.
Which is why Alabama A&M hopes will happen with its new M.A.L.E, Males for Alabama Education initiative which will recruit African-American male students who have an interest of teaching in private school and provide them up to 2 years of tuition assistance for graduate and undergraduate students, and provide funding for the tests and assements they have to take.
In school districts like Madison City where African-American students make up 20 person of the population the number of African-American students are nowhere close in comparison.
"The pool of African-American males is much smaller than the pool of non African-American males and that's something that we've seen," Robby Parker, the superintendent of Madison City Schools,said.
"I don't think that area has really improved since I became a teacher, of course that was in '75, '76," Robert Rice, a retired school teacher said.
Rice taught science in Huntsville City Schools for about 30 years. He said his first year, he was one of only a few black males in the entire school.
Superintendents say it's not a matter of not hiring African-American males to teach, but rather not having a lot of African-American educators to chose from.
M.A.L.E initiatives being created are like music to these African-American male teachers' ears.
"I think the initiative is great, it's a great idea," Rice said.
"I think that everyone in every county, every student have black male teachers inside the school," Jackson said.
Each year a student participates in the M.A.L.E. initiative, they will be required to provide 2 years of service at an Alabama P-12 school.
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