Black Lives Matter: Schott Foundation Explores Public School and Underserved Black Males - Page 2 of 3 - Black Enterprise

Black Lives Matter: Schott Foundation Explores Public School and Underserved Black Males

(Image: File)
(Image: File)
  • Few states or districts provide reliable data disaggregated by race on their high school graduates.
  • States and districts award diplomas of unequal value. Sometimes called local or career diplomas, some aren’t accepted by the state’s own universities and colleges and are sometimes disproportionately awarded to black males.
  • In almost all 50 states, black males are suspended at higher rates than their white and Latino peers.
  • In 2013, 13% of black male eighth-graders could read proficiently, compared with 21% of Latino males and 45% of white males.

Although the issues seem daunting, Jackson says there are several ways they can be effectively addressed, among them: providing reliable data disaggregated by race and gender; transitioning from a standards-based reform agenda to a supports-based model; and supporting cultural shifts in communities that have experienced low graduation rates for decades.

Golston says that without this data, the issues affecting categories of students get buried. A district’s average graduation rate may sound high, but disaggregated data would reveal trends over time and expose gaps in student populations, allowing these issues to be addressed. He says that the Schott Report shows the power of disaggregated data.

[Related: 5 STEM Programs for Young Black Males]

Christopher agrees that structural change is needed. “What we see in education is a result of the broader legacy of devaluing people of color,” she says. “Only structural, systemic change will bring about real change over time.” She suggests several solutions, including equitable financial investment; teacher training in three areas: the use of discipline without suspension, cultural differences, and awareness of their own biases; and putting the best teachers in the areas of highest need.

Golston also cites inadequate supports for struggling students—supports such as access to high quality teachers, more quality time in school, and mentoring—but he also notes how low expectations “land in a tough way on kids of color.” He stresses the importance of having teachers that operate from a belief system that all children can achieve.

In the Trenches

Golston has perhaps unwittingly described the approach of the Eagle Academy Foundation, a nonprofit that develops and supports a network of all-male, college-preparatory, traditional public schools in grades six through 12 in challenged urban communities in New York and Newark, N.J. The schools serve about 2,000 students, 77% of whom are African American, 17% Latino, and 6% other, using many of the supports Jackson, Christopher, and Golston recommend. And they are getting results. Eagle Academy has just begun to track data on its graduates, but according to ACT’s National Collegiate Retention and Persistence to Degree Rates report, the national first to second year retention rate is 63%; Eagle Academy’s first to second year retention rate is 55.5% (class of 2011 and 2012). One Eagle Academy alum works at Credit Suisse; another is in an MA/PhD program.

The organization’s mission is to educate and mentor young men so they can be future leaders committed to excellence in character, scholastic achievement, and community service. Twenty-three percent of Eagle Academy students enter the schools in need of special education, compared with the citywide average of 8%, though many of them are not actually learning disabled, says Rashad Meade, principal of Eagle Academy Ocean Hill in Brooklyn, New York. “They were disserved in their previous schools, and sometimes they are emotionally in need,” he says. “We also have a high rate of decertification–30%,” which means that a student no longer needs special education services.

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