CLEVELAND — Diversity in the classroom is a matter close to the hearts of many educators.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about eight in 10 U.S. public school teachers, or 79%, identified as non-Hispanic white during the 2017-18 school year. Less than 7% identify as Black and only 24% are men.
In the city of Cleveland, just 2% identify as Black males.
The student demographics of school districts, including those in the Cleveland area, are far more diverse. Populations of Black, Hispanic and Asian American students are increasing rapidly, making up nearly half the classroom.
The push to diversify educators is now in full swing.
An organization called "Black Men Teach Cleveland" recently teamed up with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to help encourage Black men and other races to become teachers.
"We want Black male educators, as well as other educators of all races," said Bruce Ransom, the chair of Black Men Teach Cleveland. "It's very important that students have someone to look at as a role model. And what better person than a Black, educated man to have them help guide their education in their learning and also life choices?"
Ransom has been an educator in the Cleveland Municipal School District for the past 27 years. He said the group has a five-phase theory of action to help attract more Black men to be teachers by offering ways to help them grow professionally.
"I think it's very important that we are visible in the classroom settings because there's so few of us. I didn't run into my first Black male teacher until I was in college," said Aaron Eatman, an educator at Warrensville Heights City Schools, said in a YouTube campaign video.
Black Men Teach Cleveland meets every second Thursday of the month to answer questions or address concerns. Thursday, Feb. 10 is the group's next meeting. Click here for more information.
This story was originally published by Meg Shaw on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.