Black Boys' Educational Plight Spurs Single-Gender Schools
New Federal Rules Seen as Chance for Innovation
By Catherine Gewertz

Brookline, Mass.


In the face of mounting evidence that schools are losing alarming numbers of young black men, a small band of educators gathered here recently to bolster one response to the crisis: creating public schools designed to serve African-American males.

Haunted by the specter of a bleak future for millions of young men"”and aware that single-gender programs can face legal and political opposition"”the two dozen principals were nonetheless united in their conviction that it is high time to build education programs that meet the academic and emotional needs of black boys.

"[People] ask us why we are doing single-gender education, as though what the kids are currently involved in is working," David C. Banks, the founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, a 3-year-old public school that serves predominantly low-income black and Latino boys in New York City, told a roomful of educators, scholars, and policymakers. "When you recognize that you are in crisis, you have to do more."

Mr. Banks and other school leaders formed the core of a June 3-5 conference billed as "a contemplation on the education of black male students." It was co-sponsored by Wheelock College, the Panasonic Foundation, Eagle Academy, and the Delores Walker Johnson Center for Thoughtful Leadership, a training institute that is part of the Cambridge, Mass.-based ATLAS Learning Communities, which helps schools implement its comprehensive reform model.

The conference enabled principals to share promising practices for boys who have likely had to learn in crowded schools with inexperienced teachers, cope without fathers at home, and contend with pop culture's negative images of them. Woven through the conversations about academic strategy were signs of the urgency and passion the school leaders see as necessary to the work.

"This isn't a job, it's a ministry," Jerome Harrell, the principal of the Alpha School for Excellence, in Youngstown, Ohio, told his colleagues.

Shawn Hardnett, the founder of the KIPP Polaris Academy in Houston, a boys' charter middle school that is set to open in the fall as part of the Knowledge Is Power Program network of schools, urged his fellow educators to press one another to determine the very best practices for their students.

"Every black boy I fail could end up in jail. We need to push each other hard to get better at the craft of school leadership. Push me," Mr. Hardnett said, his voice rising. "Push me down until I get this, because I can't fail one more."

The conference participants burst into applause.

A Renewed Focus
Concern about black boys' high dropout and expulsion rates, and their low grades, test scores, and college-going rates, is not new. Neither are attempts to create programs tailored to their needs. A 1991 Ebony magazine article, headlined "Do Black Males Need Special Schools?," highlighted several, in fact.

But a recent pileup of reports by scholars and activists on the educational plight of African-American boys has drawn new attention and energy to the problem, and prompted some to suggest single-gender schools as part of the solution.

Concern also has coincided with opportunity: Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education announced final regulations easing the way for single-sex education. The new rules permit public schools to group students by gender, as long as the education for students of both sexes is "substantially equal." The single-sex program must be related to improving the achievement of students, providing diverse educational opportunities, or meeting the needs of particular students. ("New U.S. Rules Boost Single-Sex Schooling," Nov. 1, 2006.)


According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, a Poolesville, Md.-based advocacy group, there are 262 public schools in the United States that are entirely single-gender or offer some single-sex classrooms, compared with 16 four years ago.

With the expansion has come opposition, however. The New York Civil Rights Coalition has asked U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to look into a program in Ossining, N.Y., that provides extra academic support to black male students. Federal education officials declined to comment on the request.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to file suit within a year over one or more of the newer single-gender public school programs, said Emily J. Martin, the deputy director of the organization's women's-rights project. "Whenever gender is used as a primary or only way to teach a student, it inevitably plays to overbroad stereotypes," Ms. Martin said.

Theodore M. Shaw, the director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which spearheaded the legal attack that led to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning racial segregation in public schools, said single-gender programs for black boys could be on "thin ice legally" if they exclude students based on their race or gender, but most don't do so.

Branding schools or programs racially discriminatory solely because they seek to help black boys, he said, is "intellectually dishonest" when the school system already segregates poor minority children in educationally inferior settings.

"The courts have said that any race-conscious program has to be justified by a compelling state interest," Mr. Shaw said. "This crisis among young black boys and men is something that rises to the level of a compelling state interest, and justifies carefully crafted and limited programs. To confuse attempts to address that crisis with racial discrimination is rather shallow-minded."

˜Don't Know Enough'
Pedro Noguera, a professor of teaching and learning at New York University, said designing scores of single-gender programs for black boys could prove misguided without a more complex understanding of the multiple factors that undermine their school performance. He hopes to gain more insight into those dynamics through a three-year research project, begun last fall, that will compare seven single-gender programs for low-income minority boys with seven programs serving demographically similar, but coeducational, student enrollments.

Mr. Noguera and other scholars note that much of the research on single-gender education focuses on parochial schools, or on private schools that serve predominantly white, middle-class populations.

"It's all about the theory of good intentions, but that's not good enough," said Mr. Noguera. "What constitutes best practice in those schools? We just really don't know enough to go around creating a lot of these right now. It could be that just creating a great school is the answer. And then you have to wonder, is [the problem] really about race or gender?"

Enthusiasm for single-gender schools, combined with the easing of federal regulations, has resulted in many hastily assembled single-sex programs, said Leonard Sax, the executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. He advised educators to take at least a year to research and train their staffs in gender-based brain development and instructional strategies.

"If all you do is put girls in one room and boys in another, you don't accomplish anything good," he said. "You end up with math being taught to boys by talking about sports and to girls by talking about shopping."

Proficiency Rates Rise
The principals at the conference"”some veteran leaders of boys' schools, others rookies"”spent much of their time in small discussion groups, sharing experiences and strategies. They explored ways to shape curriculum and pedagogy, and ways they and their teachers can serve as disciplinarians, role models, and cheerleaders for their students.

In one such group, Curt R. Green told colleagues about his experience as the principal of Capitol Pre-College Academy for Boys in Baton Rouge, La. When the school was coeducational, 30 percent to 40 percent of its students scored at the proficient level on state tests, he said. But after two years as a single-gender program, he said, boys' proficiency rates increased by 20 percentage points or more, and there were fewer behavior-related suspensions and expulsions.

Mr. Green, who will be the principal of a new public boys' school in Atlanta this fall, credited the Baton Rouge improvements largely to instructional strategies that research suggests might work well for boys.

For example, Capitol teachers were trained to understand boys' "tactile-kinesthetic" strengths, allowing them to move around in class more and designing more projects requiring hands-on work, he said. They tried to play to competitive spirit among boys by letting them use "clickers" to signal their answers to a question.

"A lot of boys jump out of their seats to answer, or blurt out answers, and that behavior is punished [in traditional classrooms]," Mr. Green said. "This way, it's channeled into something positive. ... It's about looking at the way [boys] learn and focusing on those strategies."

Tim King, the founder of Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, which opened with 9th graders last fall as Chicago's only all-male public school, said he put a premium on fostering a positive culture. One of its building blocks is "community," a daily morning gathering of all 160 students and the staff. In jackets and ties, students celebrate their accomplishments, but they are also called to account for transgressions such as being late for school, Mr. King said. Then they recite their "creed," a chant about believing in themselves, one another, and their future success.

Principals' brainstorming sessions produced a range of suggestions for ways to better engage boys in school, from building more "action-oriented" story lines and real-world applications into the curriculum to creating schools with strong discipline and decorum that take advantage of the role-modeling and mentoring potential of men in their communities.

The Rev. Joseph M. Doyle, the president of St. Augustine High School, a 48-year-old Roman Catholic boys' school that serves a predominantly low-income African-American population in New Orleans, said strong academic preparation combined with the close bonds between students and staff members can produce outstanding results.

"Ninety to 95 percent of our kids go to college, and they come back to the community as fire chiefs and [district attorneys]," he said. "This is the kind of men we produce."

Coverage of leadership is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org.

A Group in Trouble

Black boys lag behind black girls and their non-African-American male peers on key indicators of educational success.

GRADUATION:
Percent of male students who graduate from high school with a standard diploma in four years:



Source: Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, 2007
TEST SCORES:
Percent of male students who scored at the basic level or better on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress 4th grade reading exam:





In that same year, the percent who scored at the basic level or better on the NAEP 8th grade reading test:




SIGNS OF DISTRESS:
Of black males, who accounted for 8.7 percent of U.S. school enrollment in 2002...
"¢ 23.8 percent had received out-of-school suspension
"¢ 12.8 percent had been classified as learning-disabled
"¢ 21.6 percent were labeled as emotionally disturbed
"¢ 20.6 percent were classified as mentally retarded

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education office for civil rights survey, 2002, as reported in "Public Education and Black Male Students," Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2006
Original Post
This is very sad.

I think single-sex schools(or classes) are a good idea. Not just for blacks, but for all children.

But I think kids should only be separated by sex for a few classes like math, english, and science. I think they should interact in electives and some classes.
Same gender education should not be viewed as a panacea to our educational problems anyways. Good teaching comes in all forms. I do believe that an entire new paradigm and way of teaching has to be developed. The traditional way of doing things is getting nowhere fast.
quote:
Originally posted by blaqfist:
Same gender education should not be viewed as a panacea to our educational problems anyways. Good teaching comes in all forms. I do believe that an entire new paradigm and way of teaching has to be developed. The traditional way of doing things is getting nowhere fast.


I agree... same sex education is part of the solution {though wouldn't you agree a significant part no less?}...

on another note the educational system is heavily tied to this capitalist structure...

the whole idea of what it means to "learn" needs to be revamped...

Great thread sweetwuzzy...
When have Black people or Black Americans compiled a list of what constitutes education?

General education in terms of what EVERYONE should know, and Specialized education in terms of what kind of specialists we need and what people in those specialties should know.

And I don't mean vague bullsh!t like OUR HISTORY.

umbra
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
When have Black people or Black Americans compiled a list of what constitutes education?

General education in terms of what EVERYONE should know, and Specialized education in terms of what kind of specialists we need and what people in those specialties should know.

And I don't mean vague bullsh!t like OUR HISTORY.

umbra


Not sure where you are going with this umbrachist..
Could you clarify a little bit. I am not of the opinion that an all bos school will fix our collective problems. Something more fundamental in us has to change. We have to change at the DNA level. Our mind and behaviors have to change.
quote:
Not sure where you are going with this umbrachist..
Could you clarify a little bit. I am not of the opinion that an all bos school will fix our collective problems. Something more fundamental in us has to change. We have to change at the DNA level. Our mind and behaviors have to change.


I don't see where they specify the ages at which they go to single gender, is it grammar school or high school or both?

I think the problem goes deepr than this gender business also. What if they go to single gender schools and get trivial or no improvement? Time for another experiment. ROFL

I remember my problem with grammar school was that it was so damn boring. At first I had no idea what was wrong, everyone seemed to take for granted that the way it worked was the way it was supposed to work. I was regularly getting into trouble doing sh!t just to relieve the boredom.

So for me the solution was my accidental discovery of science fiction books. The trouble with mentioning that these days is most people immediately think of GARBAGE like Star Wars. 2001 would be a better example of the stuff I found, but that introduced me to science. The nuns had science books but NEVER USED THEM. I was reading about nuclear fusion while the nuns were teaching us to spell words no one ever uses. I am not saying sci-fi is the only answer, but supplying kids with comprehensible books with IMPORTANT information would be a good idea.

Trusting White people to select important information is absurd. How often do you hear talk about the state of the economy but do you ever hear them saying accounting/personal finance should be mandatory for White kids? The schools are designed to brainwash most kids into being losers, including the White kids.

My mother told me the sci-fi books were "something crazy". I tried to give a Black woman a model SR-71 Blackbird for her bookstore to hang over the science section. She looked at it like I had a piece of horse manure in my hands. I think we have a matriarchal culture with women trying to maintain a matriarchy and they have no idea how to teach their sons to cope with a patriarchal culture but we are stuck having to deal with it. If we are sabotaged in our grammar school years then the results are inevitable.

umbrarchist
Umbrarchist,


Yes, part of the problem is that kids are bored, and don't see the importance of what they are learning.

Kids still need general education, but should be pushed to specialize in an area.
quote:
Principals' brainstorming sessions produced a range of suggestions for ways to better engage boys in school, from building more "action-oriented" story lines and real-world applications into the curriculum to creating schools with strong discipline and decorum that take advantage of the role-modeling and mentoring potential of men in their communities.


We Need Liberation

I support any learning instutition that recognizes the unique needs of Black children. However, one of the questions that I have about genered schools for Black boys is, will the school prepare Black boys for reality. Sspecifically, will the school adequately prepare Black boys for living in a society that is dominated by Whites?

Too often, when we read statistics that make comparisons between the academic achievement of Black and Whites, nothing is mentioned about the racism with which Black children must contend, the limited opportunities that their parents are offered because they are Black and are not members of a priviledged social class, or their lack of cultural capital.

The hard truth is, much of a student's success in school is determined by his or her parent's socioeconomic status, social class, and educational level. So if your parents are well-educated (value education because they benefited from a high-quality education), are affluent, and can afford to live in a safe neighborhood with plenty of resources and wealth, the chances of your doing well in school are high. And as a member of the more racially- and socially-privileged class, you already have a head start that most minority children don't and will never have. This is the hard-to-swallow truth that these researchers and statisticians aren't going to point out. They will have us to believe that it's the Black children who have the problem (i.e., Black children aren't trying hard enough, they are mentally-retarded, or need to be medicated.)

Researchers would reather pathologize Black children and have us to believe that it is they who are the problem rather than the society in which they live. They diagnose them as having moderate to severe "learning disabilities", because they don't want to seriously consider how the mistreatment of the Black and poor in this country is affecting Black childrens' learning and development.

Black children's problems in school have nothing do with being attracted to the opposite sex (which is natural and unavoidable) or not having enough "scientific books." The problem is societal. Black people in this country are not liberated. We are still marginalized and oppressed, and until our oppression gets addressed, Black children will continue to suffer academically.
Last edited {1}
Concluding point: Gendered schools may be effective in improving the lives of some Black students, but if we want to improve the lives of the masses of Black children, and Black people in general, then what's taking place OUTSIDE of schools will have to change.
I think these types of social engineering experiments in our schools are exactly why these black kids aren't learning much. How is forcing kids to socialize in single-gender settings supposed to help them function in the real world?
The problem as I see it is that black boys are not treated fair. They are marginalized and made to feel like an outsider.

Many times they are labeled as a problem child or disruptive when they are just being boys. A white boy can act the exact same way and he's just called an energetic little boy.

Especially when they are in a predominately white school setting. Inner city schools, at least in my part of the country don't challenge them to learn so they don't.

There was a time where we valued education. Our problems are so complex and deep rooted that it is hard to point to a couple of high profile areas to develop a root cause.
Many our boys need caring interest of teachers who are their heritage.

All of our boys can benefit from such 'hands-on' care.

I can see this being a problem as a public school.

The same is true for our girls.

There is always a 'Yes, but...' argument against doing something 'special' for our children.

Hell, there is always a 'Yes, but...' argument against doing something 'special' for 'us' in general.

PEACE

Jim Chester
I just don't understand why people think school is so great or that it is fixable in any reasonable amount of time. The people in the system know more about it and have more time to devote to screwing it up in ways to serve their purposes than the parents of the children or any interested activists. There have always been good books but the teachers don't seem to use or suggest them so I suppose that demonstrates where the problem really lies.

http://africanamerica.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/79160213/m/1071009373/p/1

umbra
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
There have always been good books but the teachers don't seem to use or suggest them so I suppose that demonstrates where the problem really lies.

umbra


Oh my! Oh my! Yes! Yes!...

I'm actually an advocate of an entirely new learning system... not based off of a capitalist base...

at any rate.. I agree wholeheartedly....
quote:
Originally posted by ac9311:
Our problems are so complex and deep rooted that it is hard to point to a couple of high profile areas to develop a root cause.


I agree, and it's my point in a nutshell. tfro The most important thing to do is to do your part for this group of students. Don't sit on the sidelines and make uninformed judgements about what's happening in schools and about the competence of teachers. Do your research and play an active role in the lives of children, and it doesn't have to be limited to the school environment.
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by Khalliqa:
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
There have always been good books but the teachers don't seem to use or suggest them so I suppose that demonstrates where the problem really lies.

umbra


Oh my! Oh my! Yes! Yes!...

I'm actually an advocate of an entirely new learning system... not based off of a capitalist base...

at any rate.. I agree wholeheartedly....


Sister Khalliqa, speaking of a new learning system, have you ever thought about starting a school of your own? You seem to have a good heart and compassion. I think you'd approve of Roots Public Charter School, which was started by a sister named Bernida L. Thompson, Ed.D, in 1999. The curriculum that she uses to teach the students enrolled in her school is entitled "African Centered Interdisciplinary Multi-Level Hands-On Science". I suppose you could use a similar model to teach an exclusively Black school.

Personally, I love teaching students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. I enjoy learning about their cultures, languages, and traditions. I learn as much from them as they learn from me. In fact, I've learned a great deal from my students. It's a really cool interaction. And it doesn't matter what color you are, they love you to pieces. One of my star students this year was Eliza (can't reveal the last name). She's Fillipino, and she got straight A's in everything. Her parents were very much involved in her education and it showed in her school performance. She and I had a really close bond. I just love being around children. It's more rewarding than anything you can imagine.
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
I just don't understand why people think school is so great or that it is fixable in any reasonable amount of time. The people in the system know more about it and have more time to devote to screwing it up in ways to serve their purposes than the parents of the children or any interested activists. There have always been good books but the teachers don't seem to use or suggest them so I suppose that demonstrates where the problem really lies.

http://africanamerica.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/79160213/m/1071009373/p/1

umbra


Aint that the truth.

Additionally I would like to add that the time it would take to get minimally up to date with what is going on at your kids school is 1 hour a day. You could spend the time you spend watching television, to learning about your kid's future. Now that I think about it my kid's school website is not saved to my favorites at the moment...

We all have work to do. We need to stop making excuses. Library cards are free, so there is no excuse. We have money and time for every other form of foolishness, but not for our kid's education.
Well at this point, I'm not against same gender schools, for that matter I'm not against anything that will benefit black folks. So if single gender school will help our boys and girls get ahead, I say let's go for it.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
quote:
Originally posted by Khalliqa:
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
There have always been good books but the teachers don't seem to use or suggest them so I suppose that demonstrates where the problem really lies.

umbra


Oh my! Oh my! Yes! Yes!...

I'm actually an advocate of an entirely new learning system... not based off of a capitalist base...

at any rate.. I agree wholeheartedly....


Sister Khalliqa, speaking of a new learning system, have you ever thought about starting a school of your own? You seem to have a good heart and compassion. I think you'd approve of Roots Public Charter School, which was started by a sister named Bernida L. Thompson, Ed.D, in 1999. The curriculum that she uses to teach the students enrolled in her school is entitled "African Centered Interdisciplinary Multi-Level Hands-On Science". I suppose you could use a similar model to teach an exclusively Black school.

Personally, I love teaching students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. I enjoy learning about their cultures, languages, and traditions. I learn as much from them as they learn from me. In fact, I've learned a great deal from my students. It's a really cool interaction. And it doesn't matter what color you are, they love you to pieces. One of my star students this year was Eliza (can't reveal the last name). She's Fillipino, and she got straight A's in everything. Her parents were very much involved in her education and it showed in her school performance. She and I had a really close bond. I just love being around children. It's more rewarding than anything you can imagine.



Thank you for the compliment and suggestion Rowe... and I certainly am in admiration of your working in a field that truly fulfills you...

I clicked the link you have provided... and reviewed it and again I am always in admiration of those who find ways to fulfill their life's destiny, especially when it brings good to others...

I see the current school system and accepted educational philosophy as transitory to a superior system...

more community based...

unfortunately, I am working on it now and am not prepared to reveal too much information...

But I will say that I am more aligned with Umbra's thoughts on this matter...


Salaam.....
quote:
.. not based off of a capitalist base...
quote:
I am more aligned with Umbra's thoughts on this matter...


OK, now you are in trouble.

I assure you I have no qualms about using torture to make people talk. lol

I am not sure what you mean by capitalist based. I look upon most of this talk about capitalism as simply paleface rationalization of how they do things for the sake of their social psychology. This competition business in the schools is very ridiculous. Like you are supposed to bust your butt to memorize some junk you are not interested to beat classmates at getting a grade. The system is more for psychological conditioning than education.

I ran across this which might be interesting:

http://www.miamiherald.com/285/story/137833.html

umbra
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
quote:
.. not based off of a capitalist base...
quote:
I am more aligned with Umbra's thoughts on this matter...


OK, now you are in trouble.

I assure you I have no qualms about using torture to make people talk. lol

I am not sure what you mean by capitalist based. I look upon most of this talk about capitalism as simply paleface rationalization of how they do things for the sake of their social psychology. This competition business in the schools is very ridiculous. Like you are supposed to bust your butt to memorize some junk you are not interested to beat classmates at getting a grade. The system is more for psychological conditioning than education.

umbra


I suppose the fundamental assumption is that public education is a far cry from any capitalistic influence...

However, I was referring very vaguely to the notion of control of time and the purpose of education/learning...

A capitalist society necessitates that the central amount of time spent is away from home... presumably in the market place....

The educational system takes care of basic educational needs of the growing populace, many of these lessons could and should be taught at home.....

but the parents work... so the children must be reared by the school... and the school churns them out so that they will make good employees some day....


A good book to read is:

" The Underground History of American Education..." by John Taylor Gatto

Salaam...
"Low income minority boys....." That's one hell of a title to put 'em on the good foot to an empowering education. Makes 'em feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves. Call one of my boys that and it's on!!
quote:
but the parents work... so the children must be reared by the school... and the school churns them out so that they will make good employees some day....


I wore a tie every day to Catholic school. Looking back it was just psychological conditioning of an impressionable mind. Children take for granted that it is NORMAL. The way television has changed since the 60's and video games have made a new standard of normal.

umbra
Khalliqa and Rowe,

I believe that churches and community organizations should play a significant role in helping to improve the educational experience of black children. There are indeed many parents who are working and cant get to that conference or can't spend that extra hour reviewing homework. But there are many single people and college students in organizations who could be matched with a child, any black child, if they would agree to provide the enrichment, i.e. black history, museum trips, intro to science fiction AND occasionally visit the child's class.

I think this would make a huge difference. White teachers would know this child is cared about, Black teachers would feel more supported and our Black students, would get enrichment and encouragement.

This is a project I am working on, on a small scale.
quote:
Originally posted by umbrarchist:
quote:
but the parents work... so the children must be reared by the school... and the school churns them out so that they will make good employees some day....


I wore a tie every day to Catholic school. Looking back it was just psychological conditioning of an impressionable mind. Children take for granted that it is NORMAL. The way television has changed since the 60's and video games have made a new standard of normal.

umbra



Umbra,

That tie was just a way to get you prepared for your job with IBM. LOL

In all seriousness, public school in this country whether it is primary, secondary, or tertiary education is designed to make all of us employees. It does not promote individual forms of expression.

Most people who have an entrepreneurial spirit are typically outcasts in our government school systems in this country.
I know having young black males being taught by black men does have a positive effect...besides the men being truly concerned with the welfare of the boys and the boys not f-king around in their classes....sets the basis for for productive educational experience...I know it did during my day...the classes taught by brothers were known to be the ones you did not go and BS in......

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×