July 27, 2018

This university is investing $1 million to train male elementary school teachers of color

Here are three stories on how local innovation can make a difference in everyday lives

Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Today, why recruiting and training black male teachers will have a profound effect on students and what colleges that train these teachers can do about it, how library lovers defend their local institutions, and what real-life superheroes can bring to a pop-culture event. Tell us who’s innovating in your hometown. Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

Expanding the pipeline for black male teachers: The University of Illinois at Chicago will invest $1 million to train and recruit more male elementary teachers of color. The initiative, “Call Me MISTER,” draws its inspiration from the MISTER project launched in 2000 at Clemson University to address the disproportionately low number of male elementary teachers of color.

African-American and Hispanic males make up a combined 4 percent of public school teachers nationwide, despite students of color forming roughly half the intake at public schools. Research across a number of states has shown that male African-American teachers have a profoundly positive influence on the development of young black male pupils.

“This is not just becoming a teacher. This is becoming a leader,” Alfred Tatum, dean of UIC’s College of Education, told The Chicago Tribune.

MISTER, or Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models, has expanded to 32 mostly southern universities and colleges since its inception at Clemson, which has produced 258 African-American graduates currently working in public schools across South Carolina. The UIC initiative marks the first adoption of the program by a public research institution in a major city.

In defense of libraries: Social media leapt to the defense of public libraries this week after a controversial Forbes op-ed called for their replacement by Amazon bookstores.

Faced with a social media backlash, Forbes removed the column, noting in a statement that “libraries play an important role in our society.” But contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas took to Twitter to push his widely scorned idea, tweeting, “Local libraries aren’t free. Homeowners must pay a local library tax. My bill is $495/year.”

That prompted a round of criticism from pundits, who highlighted the indispensable role public libraries play for disadvantaged and poor communities.

“At a time when struggling Americans are falling deeper into poverty and America’s wealth gap is growing, public libraries remain one of the only places where vulnerable people can connect with the resources to improve their lives,” wrote Rachel Kramer Bussel in CNN.com.

Vox’s Constance Grady added to the debate by emphasizing the public library’s indispensability to a functioning democracy.

Real-life superheroes: Activists took advantage of the pulling power of Comic-Con in San Diego to celebrate another type of superhero—the real-life superheroes for justice.

The “Real Life Superhero Rally,” although unaffiliated with Comic-Con, was organized to coincide with the major annual event and highlight a raft of prominent social justice issues, from immigration to LGBTQ rights and gun violence.

“In the spirit of the superheroes coming together in this city, I wanted to create an event that celebrates real-life superheroes and use pop culture to draw attention to real world social justice issues,” Chase Masterson, actress and rally chair, told The Los Angeles Times.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project is an initiative by Allstate that spotlights local innovation and celebrates community change-makers.