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We Got Next

Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers


Lynnette Mawhinney

Developing a more culturally diverse teaching force is one of the most important tasks facing the education system in the United States. Yet, in the midst of this challenge, little is known about who these teachers might be or where they might come from. We Got Next: Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers illustrates the journeys that Black pre-service teachers travel in their attempts to become educators. By looking at their educational life histories – their schooling experiences, teaching philosophies, and personal motivation – this book discovers what compels them to become teachers and the struggles and successes they encounter along the way. With texture and care, We Got Next helps professionals, policymakers, and teacher educators to understand what draws young African Americans toward the teaching profession and how to help them get there.
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Chapter 7. We Got Next: Passing the Torch

← 118 | 119 → ·7·


These educational life histories shed light on the systematic issues that many Black prospective teachers face when trying to become a teacher. Of the 10 stories here, only three (Tyrone, Dana, and Claresha) preservice teachers became certified teachers and achieved their dreams. Jessica was finally successful by moving states and attending a university that did not have the basic skills certification exam. This was also a costly and time-consuming choice Jessica had to make to become a teacher.

On a larger scale, of the 20 Black preservice teachers interviewed for this project, only one other education major (besides Tyrone, Dana, and Claresha) became a teacher. This preservice teacher, Janessa, actually had to transfer into Carver University from another HBCU so that she had a passing score on the basic skills test. At Carver, her scores met the state’s passing requirement, but in her former state, the scores did not. For most of the people highlighted in these pages, dreams were shattered and the light within the torch was smoldered. While reading the narratives for this project, some participants told me that they cried at their dreams not being accomplished.

The roadblocks with the Black prospective teachers unable to pass the basic skills exam or, for some, maintain the 3.0 GPA give light to a bigger national issue—the quality of K–12 education for students in urban areas.← 119 | 120 → Most of the preservice teachers went to school in urban, public school systems on the East...

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