CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools still have dozens of teaching positions to fill before school starts Monday as teacher recruitment continues to be an ongoing challenge, especially for African-American men.
In addition, a local university is shutting its education department all together in 2016.
Eyewitness News anchor Eric Philips talked to teachers about why it will hurt efforts to bring more black men into the classroom. James Ford is passionate about education and is North Carolina's teacher of the year.
He's taught at Garinger High School for the past four years and knows there are not enough African-American teachers in the classroom.
“I can speak African-American vernacular or ebonics if you like. It's something that resonates with kids it's just a tangible response,” Ford said.
“He's going to tell you straight forward what you need to do to get out of school and be successful in life,” said Philip McReed, a student.
In CMS, 5 percent of teachers are African-American men with a student population of more than 41 percent African-American.
Ford doesn't believe there's been enough of an effort to recruit black men, so the interest isn't there on college campuses.
Johnson C Smith University will close its Department of Education at the end of 2016 and officials sent a statement which said, “While the Department of Education is consistent with the historic mission of the school, right now, there's not enough interest to financially sustain the department.”
That makes it more challenging for school systems like CMS who try to recruit at historically black colleges and universities.
Mario Shaw was in the classroom for two years through Teach for America and now works for an education nonprofit organization.
He has started a group called Profound Gentlemen aimed at supporting black male educators.
“It's nothing like having another black male teacher supporting you because they know the walk that you have to. They know the same walk,” Shaw said.