Detroit forum stresses importance of Black and Latino men in early childhood education ⋆

Black and Latino male early childhood educators say they face challenges in their profession, but also stressed the positive aspects of male-led teaching environments. 

This was during an education summit, “Black & Brown Male Educators Matter,” that was held Tuesday in Detroit at Focus: HOPE, an early learning, job training and community advocacy nonprofit. 

As of 2019, fewer than 3% of preschool and kindergarten teachers were men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, nearly 40% of Focus: HOPE’s educators are Black and Brown men, according to the organization. Detroit’s population is 79% African American.

Most early childhood teachers are women, but many classrooms have a significant number of boys.  

“It’s a great benefit to see men who look like them, men who care. A lot of times kids from the community did not see a male at home. A lot of kids are being raised by single mothers, grandparents or aunties. So to see a man who is caring and loving, engaging with them can have a great impact on a child,” said Waymond Hayes, director of Early Learning and Youth Development at Focus: HOPE’s Early Learning Center. 

During the panel discussion, speakers discussed stigmas and biases men face in the field and how to eliminate barriers to increase male representation in the classroom.

“When we ask boys what they want to be when they grow up, it’s not that they want to be an early childhood educator. And we have to ask ourselves, ‘Why is that?’” said Roland Sintos Coloma, professor of teacher education at Wayne State University. 

Juan Ruiz is the project director for 21st century youth development program, childhood specialist for Great Start Readiness Program at Focus: HOPE Early Learning Center.

“It takes a village to raise a child. Especially, a positive male role model,” said Ruiz. 

The men encourage more males of color to volunteer as mentors in school settings, and train employees to better recognize the importance of having them in education settings. 

During a roundtable discussion with early childhood educators in Detroit in March, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who is African American, pointed out that the Whitmer administration has sought to improve the compensation for pre-K teachers through grant funding. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration provided resources to more than 5,500 childcare programs and provided nearly 38,000 workers with $1,000 bonuses for full-time staff.  

authored by Ken Coleman
First published at

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