The Next Great Draft

by Randal Seriguchi, Jr.

Published 03/15/2018 at 5:00 PM 


America needs troops and we need them now. We have a great national security crisis that hasn’t shown signs of improvement. We have a real American problem on our hands, and there is no cost too high to protect American culture or way of life.

For multiple decades, African American students have been at or near the bottom of national student performance at each level of the K-12 experience. It is not a new issue.

The impact of these results has been substantial: according to a 2015 White House report, if we closed the gap in educational attainment between working-age (25-64) men of color and white men of the same age, communities of color would earn as much as $170 billion more annually.  Given that student performance is a primary factor in driving educational attainment,  we need to do something big to effectuate real change for our nation’s people in reclaiming some of that lost potential.

How Sway?!

Let’s start with a small set of knowns:

We know how important teachers are to the equation of improving student achievement. Investing in teachers should be a priority.

We know that same-race matches between students and teachers are associated with greater student achievement, the effects of which are estimated to be stronger among  low-performing African American students.

We know that African American students represent approximately 15% of public school students.

We know that African American men represent a mere 2% of public school teachers nationwide.

There are multiple efforts nationwide to attract more men of color to the teaching profession and to retain them.


In San Francisco, California, Urban Ed Academy has worked to serve as a proof point for the importance of cultural reflection between students and the adults helping them learn. We’re confident in our approach given the quality and increasing volume of research on the impact of teacher diversity. San Francisco Unified School District, has been an excellent equity partner in our work and we look forward to continuing our support of their efforts in maintaining a representative teaching corps.

Unfortunately, San Francisco is dealing with the same issues shared by nearly every major city in America: a historic national teacher shortage and persistent gaps in representation between teachers and students. We believe now is  the time to call for a draft of teachers, and incentivize these patriots with the same fervor found within military recruitment.

In order to enlist help for an emergency, you have to be willing to take care of the people who take care of you. We did a little research to see what is currently offered for service to the country. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what a college graduate could expect to make as a public school teacher versus an enlisted soldier:

A quick review of this side-by-side comparison shows how we’ve historically prioritized one public servant, while under-resourcing an equally important public servant.

What could we shift to bring cross-sector appeal to an area where we need more talent?

Recently enacted California state legislation approved district-operated teacher housing, opening the door for some school districts to take advantage of the new recruitment tool. In a state like California and a city like San Francisco, dedicated (and deeply subsidized) teacher housing is a valuable chip to put on the table for a service candidate.

War overseas is expensive, but so is living in the Bay Area. The people fighting on the frontlines of the battle for the educational freedom of our families, our teachers, need to be  equally supported to serve dutifully. As we have done for our military service members, supplying housing to make service easier should be a no-brainer.

So how much is it worth to #houseateacher? How much is it worth to protect our freedom? Whatever those prices are, they are worth it.

How can you help?
  1. If you live in a home that could house a teacher, give us a shout! We’d love to connect you with someone who might need the space and could lend a hand at home.
  2. Share this message! We won’t be able to spend our way out of this problem, but we can share our way to a solution.