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Data shows Black students are struggling with math. A Cheyney University professor is helping bridge the gap

Pennsylvania HBCU professor solves community problems, multiplies ways to success with math
Pennsylvania HBCU professor solves community problems, multiplies ways to success with math 03:28

CHEYNEY, Pa. (CBS) -- An HBCU adjunct professor has made it his life's mission to help Black students get more comfortable with math.

Akil Parker shares his passion for numbers as an adjunct math professor at Cheyney University. While he enjoyed learning math as a student, he admits there were times he struggled.

"I know how it feels to like, sit in the classroom and not understand what's going on, and you know, not understand what the teacher is talking about," Parker said. 

Parker said over the years, he's had so many students asking for help outside the classroom that he decided to create a company called All This Math.


He runs a tutoring business, but he also posts videos on YouTube so students can get free math support at any time. Parker has posted hundreds of videos on his channel, covering everything from long division to quadratic functions.

"I want to make it more normalized, you know, for people in the Black community to like really embrace math and run toward it. I think that, you know, we kind of shy away from math," Parker said. "A lot of us have had negative classroom experiences in math classes."

Data shows many Black students are struggling.


According to 2023 standardized test results from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, only 13% of Black or African American students in grades three through eight were proficient or above in math.

That's compared to 19% of Hispanic students, 48% of white students and 67% of Asian students.

James Earl Davis, an urban education professor at Temple University, said the racial achievement gap in math and other subjects has persisted for decades.

"There are many reasons for this," Davis said. "The resources that are available in schools, the quality of teaching and learning, issues around poverty. Those gaps that you see, in some cases, they can be explained by income."

Despite the challenges, Parker is teaching kids that math mastery is possible. He incorporates Black history into his lessons to make the material more relatable.

11-year-old twins Jonas and Shiloh Winkfield-Pearson get virtual tutoring from the professor every two weeks and also watch his videos.


"The thing that I won't forget is when he used the cross-section math. He calls it the 'Malcolm X Method' because he turns it into an X," Jonas Winkfield-Pearson said. 

The twins' mother said Parker has changed their lives. The boys' confidence in their math skills has grown. Now they're both interested in STEM careers. Shiloh Winkfield-Pearson wants to be a dentist; his brother wants to be a robotic surgeon.

"If we can carbon copy Akil, I think that, you know, there would be so many other Black boys, especially, who would feel that math is a safe subject for them," LaToya Winkfield said. 

Parker believes math is a skill everyone should have.

He wrote the book "How To Use All This Math" to teach parents how to find math in everyday life, so in turn, they can show their kids how it applies to the real world.

"Mathematics is, in my opinion, the single greatest subject to teach people how to solve problems," Parker said. 

Solve problems in our personal lives and in the community, by multiplying the ways to success.

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