Equity in the Classroom: Black teacher in SF's Bayview inspiring students, diversifying industry

"The teaching population as we know nationally is not incredibly diverse, it's still incredibly white."

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Recruiting Black male teachers to build equity in SF classrooms
Programs like San Francisco's Pathway to Teaching are helping to build equity in education by recruiting Black and brown male teachers.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In the last 18 months, America has endured a health crisis unseen in our lifetime. Our kids were away from the classroom and many people lost their jobs. Still, we like to think that we are strong as individuals, as communities and as a nation. There are two recruiting programs that are helping to build equity among teachers to make America even stronger.

That's how we met Mr. C.

"As I approach the school it's like how can I impact these students today," he asks himself. "Everyday is going to be different and that's what I love about teaching."

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"Good morning!" he greets the staff at his school. "Good morning Mr. C!"

Mr. C is short for Codion Isom, a kindergarten teacher at Malcolm X Academy in San Francisco's Bayview District.

"Alright class, let's make sure we find a spot on the carpet, " he instructs his class.

He's only 28-years-old yet when we sat down with him, Mr. C delivered a thought-provoking question.

"Can you name or remember how many Black male teachers you had?" he asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

She couldn't remember a single one.

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Inside the classroom he is an engaging teacher. "A is for apple, A, A, Apple," his students respond enthusiastically.

These kids will always remember that their first teacher was an African American male.

"The good in having it is like now I have someone in front of me who knows what I'm going through, who's probably been through what I've been through," expressed Mr. C.

His mom died when he was only 5 and he never knew his father. He was raised by his grandparents in Michigan.

"My grandmother always told me Cody, you're going to work with kids," he said with a big smile.

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"The teaching population as we know nationally is not incredibly diverse, it's still incredibly white, it's still incredibly female," said Kristin Smith Alvarez who heads the San Francisco Unified School District's recruiting program called Pathway to Teaching.

That's the case across this country where more than half of schools don't have a black teacher and less than 2% of schools have a Black male educator.

But programs like Pathway to Teaching and Urban Ed Academy are helping to build equity in education by recruiting Black and Brown male teachers.

"Research tells us that the impact of having, for example, a Black teacher on Black students is profoundly positive in terms of the impact there not only for Black students but for students of all races," added Smith Alvarez.

"Seeing that they're accepting us by putting us into these classrooms, they are saying we believe in you, we know the change that you can be, it's just inspiring," said Mr. C.