Policing and Teaching: The Positioning of Black Male Teachers as Agents in the Universal Carceral Apparatus

Abstract

Given the challenging in- and out-of-school outcomes that some boys and young men of color exhibit, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have advocated for increasing the number of Black male teachers. This strategy is predicated on the belief that having same-race and same-gender teachers can improve student learning. Drawing on Shedd’s Universal Carceral Apparatus and Brown’s Pedagogical Kind, this study used the qualitative method, specifically phenomenology, to explore the school-based experiences of 27 Black male teachers across 14 schools in one urban school district. Participants perceived that their peers and school administrators positioned them to serve primarily as disciplinarians first and teachers second. The Black male teachers described how their colleagues expected them to redirect student misbehavior. They rejected the idea that they were magically constructed or that students who were deemed as misbehaving responded to the teachers’ redirection simply because they were Black men. Instead, participants described how they attended to students’ social and emotional development, thereby influencing their capacity to engage and manage perceived misbehavior. Implications for future research are presented at the conclusion of the study.

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Correspondence to Travis J. Bristol.

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Bristol, T.J., Mentor, M. Policing and Teaching: The Positioning of Black Male Teachers as Agents in the Universal Carceral Apparatus. Urban Rev 50, 218–234 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-018-0447-z

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Keywords

  • Urban education
  • Black male teachers
  • Teacher roles
  • Policing
  • Discipline