The latest crusade by the outspoken and very busy Education Secretary Arne Duncan is getting more African-American teachers into the classroom. Earlier this month, he laid out why in a speech he delivered at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Symposium at North Carolina Central University in Durham:
As all of you know, talent matters tremendously in the classroom—and that is why recruiting and training a new generation of great teachers is essential to closing the achievement gap. Ambrose Caliver, the first African-American research specialist hired by the U.S. Office of Education, captured that urgency in a single sentence 75 years ago when he wrote: "In the hands of the Negro teachers rests the destiny of the race."Every day, African-American teachers are doing extraordinary work in helping to close the achievement gap. Yet we also know that children of color have too few teachers of color. Nationwide, more than 35 percent of public school students are black or Hispanic, but less than 15 percent of our teachers are black or Latino. It is especially troubling that less than two percent of our nation's 3.2 million teachers are African-American males. On average, roughly 200,000 new teachers are hired a year in America—and just 4,500 of them are black males. It is not good for any of our country's children that only one in 50 teachers is a black man.