Sunday, September 04, 2016

Loving Homes Can Help Solve the African-American Male School Adaptability Crisis

At the core of the problems that African Americans face is what I call the African-American male school adaptability crisis. I believe this is the failure of African-American male students to adapt to various school requirements, which prevents African-American males from having stable families. 

When I was dean of students at Bronx Community College, I sought to do something about this issue. I conceived and administered an experimental grant program called the Minority Male Career Pathway Program. Participants had a statistically significant higher retention rate and credit accumulation than their control counterparts. One group showed a statistically significant increase in their self-esteem.

I pursued these promising results upon retirement. I set up a private foundation to create an enhanced version of this program called the African-American Male Career Pathway Program to address various social problems. Central to my endeavors was the question of why do we have this issue.

In my opinion, essential to a solution is collaboration among the school as well as the home community. Without this partnership, the problem cannot be solved.  I believe that many see our students as victims.  As victims, the students are thought to have no role in the solution because being victims they are held blameless. In my opinion, the blame instead is being placed on the school and the system.

According to an article in The New York Times, the psychologist Angela Duckworth found that “the most successful students weren’t always the ones who displayed a natural aptitude; rather, they displayed something she came to think of as grit.”

Therefore, had our students acquired a feeling of security and love at home, especially during the first three years of life, rather than having character deficits, they would likely have sound character.  I believe that the home is responsible for having a decisive role in students’ success. A bad home environment leaves the students unhinged with a guidance void.

To fill the void, I have concluded that black male leadership and participation is required.

As for what should be done, I believe that the African American Male Career Pathway Program offers a template. This is a successor to the Minority Male Career Pathway Program mentioned above. Mainly, professional black males would staff the program. This would enable students to discover and pursue a career pathway to address their needs and daily concerns through a loving environment to establish nourishing connections.  

My proposals pertaining to the collaboration of school and community would draw upon the use of black males and would focus on career and character.

Daunting as I believe this problem is, it can be solved if our advantaged black males are willing to lead the way.


Georgetown University plans steps to atone for slave past

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said Wednesday.

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery, and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.

So far, DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released Thursday. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

DeGioia’s decision to offer an advantage in admissions to descendants, similar to that offered to the children and grandchildren of alumni, is unprecedented, historians say. The preference will be offered to the descendants of all the slaves whose labor benefited Georgetown, not just the men, women, and children sold in 1838.

More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Harvard, and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But Craig Steven Wilder and Alfred L. Brophy, two historians who have studied universities and slavery, said they knew of none that had offered preferential status in admissions to the descendants of slaves.

Wilder, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said DeGioia’s plans to address Georgetown’s history go beyond any initiatives enacted by a university in the past 10 years.

“It goes farther than just about any institution,” he said. “I think it’s to Georgetown’s credit. It’s taking steps that a lot of universities have been reluctant to take.”

But whether the initiatives result in meaningful change remains to be seen, he said. Wilder cautioned that the significance of the preferential status in admissions would rest heavily on the degree to which Georgetown invested in outreach to descendants, including identifying them, making sure they are aware of the benefit’s existence, and actively recruiting them to the university.

“The question of how effective or meaningful this is going to be will only be answered over time,” Wilder said.

DeGioia’s plan, which builds on the recommendations of the committee that he convened last year, represents the university’s first systematic effort to address its roots in slavery. Georgetown, which was founded and run by Jesuit priests in 1789, relied on the Jesuit plantations in Maryland — and the sale of produce and slaves — to finance its operations.

The 1838 sale, worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars, was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuits. A portion of the profit, about $500,000, was used to help pay off Georgetown’s debts at a time when the college was struggling financially. The slaves were uprooted from the Maryland plantations and shipped to estates in Louisiana.

DeGioia said he planned to apologize for the wrongs of the past “within the framework of the Catholic tradition,” by offering what he described as a Mass of reconciliation in partnership with the Jesuit leadership in the United States and the Archdiocese of Washington.

“We know we’ve got work to do, and we’re going to take those steps to do so,” DeGioia said in an interview Wednesday.

The two buildings being renamed originally paid tribute to the Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy and the Rev. William McSherry, the college presidents involved in the 1838 sale. Now one will be called Isaac Hall to commemorate the life of Isaac, one of the slaves shipped to Louisiana in 1838, and the other Anne Marie Becraft Hall, in honor of a 19th-century educator who founded a school for black girls in Washington.

“It needs to be a part of our living history,” DeGioia said.


Most British boys leave grade school without basic numeracy and literacy skills

The majority of boys leave primary school without having reached basic standards in reading, writing and maths, government figures reveal today.

This year 11-year-olds faced tougher SATs exams after a government drive to improve standards.

 Girls rose to the challenge with 57.1 per cent reaching the expected standard compared to less than half of boys.

For the first time pupils needed to achieve 100 in the Key Stage 2 exams rather than a level 4 under the old system.

Department for Education data released showed 50.46 per cent of boys – or 149,872  of the 296,988 males who sat the exams - failed to meet the new standard.

Meanwhile 42.89 per cent of girls did not reach the bar – representing 122,276 of the 285,028 who sat the exams.

Widening gap

There was a roughly eight per cent difference in success between the genders – the largest since 2012 when 29 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls failed to get level 4s under the old system.

Experts said girls outperform boys at a young age as they tend to be more eager to please and there are fewer male role models for boys to aspire to.

Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, said fresh efforts to raise standards through a new ‘rigorous curriculum’ meant most students "performed well" in this year’s tests.

The proportion of all students achieving the expected standards went from 80 per cent to 52 per cent under the new system as the National Union of Teachers (NUT) branded the new tests "deeply flawed" and threatened to boycott them.

New grading system

The new 100 mark is seen as equivalent of the old level 4b.

But the DfE argues the marks are “broadly similar but are not equivalent to an old level 4b.”

“However, given the curricula differences, there is not a direct equivalence between the new expected standard and level 4b there is not a direct equivalence between the new expected standard and level 4b in previous years.

“When a new curriculum and tests are introduced, evidence suggests that  results will initially be lower but that they are likely to rise more quickly than normal for a few years after their introduction while pupils and teachers become familiar with the new material,” the DfE said in a report on the KS2 results.

Boys need single sex education in primary

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the gap between boys and girls was a ‘major cause of concern’ and partly explained by too much focus on ‘Hermione Granger’ type girls and female dominated classrooms in primary.

The former headteacher said: “The gap between boys and girls is of major concern. It is starting at an early age and it is evident all the way through to university.

“Girls tend to mature more quickly and they also tend to dominate more at primary schools. They tend to get more encouragement for their way of learning in environments where the vast majority are female teachers.

“A lot of primary schools are dominated by Hermione Granger-type girls – a delight to teach and eager to please. But this is happening at the expense of boys.”

 He said single-sex education in primary schools at state level could be a key to closing the gap.

Mr McGovern explained: “Boys and girls develop at a different rate and this could play to boys advantage and narrow the gap.”

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, said: “The case for a complete rethinking of assessment in primary schools is overwhelming – this deeply flawed system must not be allowed to do further harm to pupils and to teachers in 2017.

“The National Union of Teachers calls for the suspension of current > arrangements for testing, and for the development of alternatives which can command public and professional support.

“If the government is not prepared to make the changes needed, then the Union is prepared to work with other unions to boycott both KS1 and KS2 SATs.”

Raising standards

 Nick Gibb, schools standards minister, said: "We want to build a country that works for everyone so that all children, regardless of background or ability, have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

"That's why we have introduced a more rigorous curriculum, raised the standard we expect pupils to achieve by age 11 and placed more emphasis on phonics in the teaching of reading.

"Thanks to this focus on raising standards and the hard work of teachers, the majority of pupils have performed well in this year's tests.

"We will continue working with the sector to build on that success and further develop the primary assessment system."


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