There may be nothing more important in the educational life of a child than having effective teachers, but U.S. schools are struggling to attract and keep them. The problem is most acute in rural areas, where kids may learn math from a social studies teacher. In urban schools, the teachers most likely to leave are black men, who make up just 2 percent of teachers. This APM Reports documentary tells two separate but connected stories about the teachers these schools desperately need, but can’t hold on to: black men and those willing to work in rural areas. There are surprising similarities in why schools struggle to attract and keep these teachers that are particularly relevant now, when the divides between urban and rural — and white and black — are getting so much attention.
Did you know? Researchers at the World Bank identified mentoring as one of the most promising approaches to serve at-risk children around the world. I know mentoring works because I have mentors myself, like teachers and aides, who help me stay organized, make good choices, and work hard even if I don’t feel like it. “One of the really important things that good teachers understand is that their relationship with a student is what’s going to make the difference for that student in terms of success,” says Thomas Jennings, superintendent of the Schenevus Central School District in Upstate New York. Mr. Jennings thinks that all students could benefit from positive time with adults in school.