Articles tagged with CUBE conference

CUBE panel: School-level policies help minority male students

To make a difference in the lives of young men of color, urban school boards need to review the policies and priorities directed at the needs of this population—but they also need to make certain that these policies and priorities are reality at the school level.

That was the advice offered by a panel of educators speaking at the 45th Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta last weekend.

Discussing possible school board strategies to help these students, panelist Carl Harris, a one-time superintendent and former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, suggested conference attendees begin by taking a closer look at what was happening in their schools.

“In too many settings, we have a beautiful mission, a beautiful vision of where we want to take our schools, but when we look at how we operate day to day as a school or district, there’s a disconnect,” he said.

An example of this disconnect might be the difference between a school board’s academic hopes for minority male students and the disproportionate number of these students assigned to special education. The panel’s facilitator, Kendall Lee, a board services consultant with the Ohio School Boards Association, asked panelists how to address the issue.

Look at the data—and ask tough questions about why the district’s outcomes aren’t aligned with the district’s goals, Harris said. “My experiences working with school boards across the country is that, in many case, the data is not put directly in front of school boards as much as it should be.”

The answer is no different when examining a district’s disciplinary policies, panelists said. Statistics show that young black males are suspended or expelled at far greater rates than other students, a practice that forces students out of the classroom and discourages their interest in school.

“It’s an American shame,” said panelist Van Henri White, a school board member in Rochester, N.Y., and a member of the CUBE Steering Committee. “Our leaders aren’t treating our people right.”

Inappropriately assigning students to special education classes or disciplining them excessively undermines students’ hopes and risks putting them into the school-to-prison pipeline, panelists said. These are messages that only heighten the negative and hope-deflating experiences, such as police harassment, that these students face on the streets.

Indeed, talking to jailed young men, White said, he’s seen “the frustration of young men of color who do not believe they have an honest shot at the American Dream. They believe the deck is stacked against them, and they do not have a chance to succeed in the classroom, the courtroom, or in the boardroom.”

That reality puts school boards in the “business of saving and rescuing” these students, said panelist Ron Walker, executive director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color said. “It’s non-negotiable to stand up and save our sons.”

It would help if schools had more black and Latino male role models in the schools—to show young students that academic success is possible, suggested Lee, and the panel talked of the challenges of recruiting and retaining such hard-to-find teachers.

Yet, Walker noted that the demographics are not in school boards’ favor, and, ultimately, there was no guarantee that simply having male teachers will allow schools to reach out successfully to students.

“It’s not a forgone conclusion that if, you have black male teachers, that they’ll be culturally proficient,” he said. “Some of us, who look like me, are as close to culturally proficient as I am to the moon.”

What’s needed, Walker suggested, is better recruitment and professional development to ensure that more teachers understand the needs of young men of color.

“We’re not going to get the influx of black and brown teachers we’re going to need,” he said. “So everyone needs to be culturally proficient.”


Del Stover|October 9th, 2012|Categories: Urban Schools, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, CUBE|Tags: |

Educators must engage minority male students, CUBE speaker says

When urban school leaders ask themselves why young men of color are not doing well in their schools, they may be asking the wrong question.

The real question may be why school leaders—on their watch— are allowing so many of these students to struggle in their schools.

That was the provocative beginning of the two-hour opening session of the 45th annual conference of the Council of Urban Board of Education (CUBE), which opened Thursday in Atlanta.

As she began talking of the role of school leaders in helping these students, speaker Sonya Gunnings–Moton, an assistant dean at Michigan State University’s College of Education, hammered home a series of damning facts regarding the school experience of many African-American and Latino students.

Academic performance is lower on average for minority male students compared to their white peers, she said. These students are more likely to end up suspended or expelled, assigned to a special education program, or enrolled in an under-resourced school.

They also are less likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs.

This reality is disturbing enough to fuel action, Gunnings-Moton said. But, in her mind, she added, there was a more-compelling reason for her audience to return home from the conference and address the issue.

“It’s happening under our watch … this is not a history lesson,” she argued. “These are our realities today—the realities with our children.”

“One of the things I want you to be very clear about … we are responsible. This is our responsibility.”

So where to begin? Start with the research that shows that many minority male students don’t drop out of school because of poor academics, as is commonly believed, Gunnings -Moton said.

According to research, “what large populations of [these students] really did not believe, did not internalize, was the belief that going to school and being educated was going to make a difference in the outcome of their lives,” she told urban school leaders

Society, she added, has sent these students a consistent message that they will not succeed in school—and they have responded by deciding there is no need to make the attempt.

“Now that has profound implications around what we may need to think about … what it means to engage African-American males in education.”

To address this reality, urban school leaders need to go beyond the focus on instructional and management issues that has been the centerpiece of school reform efforts for the past decade, she said. Now it’s time for educators to focus on the very real social and emotional needs of young urban male students.

Efforts are needed to engage young male students in school, convince them they can succeed academically, and provide more supports to help them with the very real emotional and social issues that these students must address in a poor urban community.

Winning support to put scarce resources into such an effort can be a challenge, Gunnings-Moton agreed, but she said school leaders can argue that such efforts serve the needs of all students—and shouldn’t be looked at as an intervention solely for minority male students.

“You have a tremendous amount of data that all students who receive socio-emotional support and prevention services achieve better academically, regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” she said. “It makes sense for all students.”

Del Stover|October 5th, 2012|Categories: Governance, High Schools, Immigrants, School Reform, Student Achievement, Policy Formation, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , |
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