Racial education disparity: Florida program ‘Bridging the Gap’

24 Sep

Moi asked a tough question in In Hard question: Does indigenous African-American culture support academic success? Moi opined:
Jesse Washington of AP has written a comprehensive article which details the magnitude of the disaster which is occurring in the African-American community. In the article, Blacks Struggle With 72% Unwed Mother Rate which was reprinted at SeattlePI.Com Washington sounds an alarm which if you can’t hear it, makes you deaf.
This is not about racism or being elitist. This is about survival of an indigenous American culture. This is not about speaking the truth to power, it is about speaking the truth. The truth is children need two parents to help them develop properly and the majority of single parent headed families will live in poverty. Children from single parent homes have more difficult lives. So called “progressives” who want to make their “Sex and the City” life style choices the norm because they have a difficult time dealing with the emotional wreckage of their lives, need to shut-up when it comes to the survival of the African American community. This is an issue that the so called educated classes and religious communities have to get involved in.

Trip Gabriel reported about more fallout from the failure of the African-American family in the New York Times. In Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/education/09gap.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
Brian M. Rosenthal’s Seattle Times article reported about the achievement gap between native African-Americans and immigrant African ethnic groups in Seattle.

In the article, ‘Alarming’ new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools, Rosenthal reported:

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home — typically immigrants or refugees — according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2017046660_newgap19m.html

This education achievement disparity is observed all over the country.

Cara Fitzpatrick reported in the Tampa Bay Times article, Pinellas unveils plan to boost academic performance for black students:

Superintendent Mike Grego quietly unveiled a sweeping new plan last week to combat one of the Pinellas County school system’s oldest and most pressing problems: the achievement gap between black students and their peers.
The plan, dubbed Bridging the Gap, calls for struggling black students to be monitored much more closely, pushing them into after-school and summer programs, meeting with their parents or guardians, pairing them with mentors, and making sure they have access in school to credit recovery classes.
Under the plan, all black students will be invited to take advanced classes and have access to preparation programs for college placement exams. Teachers, too, will be part of the plan’s focus, with an emphasis on learning “culturally responsive” instruction and practices.
Grego said many of the strategies aren’t new, but the district hasn’t been consistent, perhaps because of a revolving door of leaders at the top. Grego, who is nearing his first anniversary with the school district, is the third superintendent in three years.
He said the focus will be on closely tracking student data and repeatedly asking, “How are our African-American students doing?”
School officials also will be persistent in looking for community involvement. At Leila Davis Elementary, for instance, Grego said the principal was recruiting mentors from a nearby church to work with struggling black students.
Rene Flowers, the School Board’s only black member, acknowledged that parts of the plan are more “in your face” than what the school system has done previously, and some parents might not like it. But she said it should push students harder and keep better tabs on their academic performance, long-term goals and attendance — before a problem reaches critical levels.
“I think this monitoring will let us know as a district where our students are,” she said. “I’m all for it.”
Being “culturally responsive” could be as simple as knowing where students live and what their home lives are like, Flowers said.
“Maybe they have to deal with a parent who didn’t come home last night,” she said, adding that a teacher will then understand why a student looks “exhausted” in first period.
Bridging the Gap is Grego’s first major districtwide initiative aimed specifically at the academic achievement of black students, a persistent area of weakness in the school system.
Black students make up 19 percent of Pinellas’ enrollment, yet their academic outcomes are far worse than their peers. Black students also are doing worse in Pinellas than black students in other large, urban school districts, including Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The statistics are startling.
Black males have Pinellas County’s lowest graduation rate, with 46 percent earning a diploma, compared to 73 percent of white males. More than 65 percent of white students were proficient in reading last school year, yet only 28 percent of black students were. Math scores were similarly far apart…http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/pinellas-unveils-plan-to-boost-academic-performance-for-black-students/2143172

Jennifer Aniston got into a flap about her opinion regarding single motherhood. As reported by the Celebitchy blog in the post, Bill O’Reilly Takes On Jennifer Aniston’s Pro-Single Mother Comments Aniston said:

“Women are realizing it more and more knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child. Times have changed and that is also what is amazing… that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents’ days when you can’t have children because you have waited too long. The point of the movie is what is it that defines family? It isn’t necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot. Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere. That is what I love about this movie. It is saying it is not the traditional sort of stereotype of what we have been taught as a society of what family is.”

See, Andrea Peyser’s Gals Being Lost in ‘No Man’ Land http://nypost.com/2010/08/23/gals-getting-lost-in-no-man-land/

The Washington Post article, Number of Black Male Teachers Belies Their Influence http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-07-04/news/36816280_1_black-men-black-male-teachers-black-girls made moi think about the importance of healthy male role models in a child’s life. This article is about a good male role model, a hero, Will Thomas.
The reason that teachers like Will Thomas are needed, not just for African American kids, is because the number of households headed by single parents, particularly single women is growing. Not all single parent households are unsuccessful in raising children, but enough of them are in crisis that society should be concerned. The principle issues with single parenting are a division of labor and poverty. Two parents can share parenting responsibilities and often provide two incomes, which lift many families out of poverty. Families that have above poverty level incomes face fewer challenges than families living in poverty. Still, all families face the issue of providing good role models for their children. As a society, we are like the Marines, looking for a few good men.

Why does the culture think that the opinion of any celebrity should be valued above common sense? Celebrities will often repeat the mantra that they are not role models and really want to work on their art or their craft. But, many young people look up to these babbling heads as if they are an example of the best way to live. So, the question becomes how to give children the values that they might receive if they were in a healthy family. Youth Guidance attempts to meet that need with the “Becoming A Man” program.

Youth Guidance describes “Becoming a Man” (BAM):

Youth Guidance’s B.A.M. (Becoming A Man™) – Sports Edition is a school-based counseling, mentoring, violence prevention and educational enrichment program that promotes social, emotional and behavioral competencies in at-risk male youth. B.A.M – Sports Edition’s curriculum addresses six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, visionary goal-setting and respect for women, as each value relates to personal and academic success.
B.A.M. – Sports Edition addresses key challenges African-American and Latino youth confront daily in some of Chicago’s toughest communities.B.A.M. – Sports Edition focuses exclusively on males because they are vastly more likely than females to be either victims or perpetrators of violent crime. Youth Guidance’s Anthony DiVittorio, L.C.P.C. created B.A.M. in response to an observation that his male students often lacked physical and emotional access to their fathers or other positive male role models. DiVittorio designed the B.A.M. curriculum around an innovative application of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, resiliency theory and rites of passage “men’s work” that have been demonstrated to successfully help youth improve self-regulation, social skills, and interpersonal skills.B.A.M. is invested in helping youth improve life-long protective factors and reduce behavioral risk factors.
Over the course of 30 weekly sessions, B.A.M. – Sports Edition participants engage in developmentally-based lessons and challenges that promote their emotional literacy, impulse-control, social competence, positive peer relations and interpersonal problems-solving skills. B.A.M. – Sports Editionis designed to help students pass classes, reduce both in-school and out of school suspensions, reduce detentions, increase school attendance, reduce disciplinary problems, and support grade promotion.
Results of the study released in 2012 show that B.A.M. works and is cost-effective. Program participants saw a 10 percent increase in graduation rates, a reduction in failing grades by 37 percent, and a decrease in violent crime arrests by 44 percent. At a cost of $1,100 per participant, the Crime Lab estimates the social benefit/cost ratio to be at least 3:1 per participating youth.
“The University of Chicago Crime Lab study shows that Youth Guidance’s B.A.M. program reduces youth violence, increases school achievement and helps Chicago’s young men reach their full potential. ‘Becoming a Man’ helps young men find evidence of their worth, strengthen their connection to and success in school, and help build safer communities,” stated Youth Guidance’s CEO Michelle Morrison.
B.A.M.’s curriculum is built on six B.A.M. Core Values http://www.youth-guidance.org/here/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/B.A.M.-Core-Values.pdf

Here are the BAM Core Values:

1.INTEGRITY – is the core principle of the program. Students learn to identify and respect societal values and to conduct themselves in accordance with those values. Students learn that a man’s word should have meaning, and that a man’s integrity is dependent on keeping his word. Students learn that a man is someone who is reliable, honest and in touch with his integrity or lack thereof. He makes amends when he is out of integrity, and does what he says he is going to do.
2. ACCOUNTABILITY – Students learn that they should be responsible for the choices that they make and take ownership for their feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Students learn that a man does not project, or put blame onto others for the consequences of his own bad choices. A man can feel anger, sadness or fear, but he must own his reactions to those emotions.
3. SELF-DETERMINATION – is a learned skill, and practice begins in B.A.M. group. Students learn the importance of focus and perseverance in reaching one’s goals. Students learn to deal with self-defeating feelings, thoughts and behaviors that can become obstacles or barriers to goal-attainment. Students learn that self-doubt, uncertainty, and moments of weakness are natural when attempting to reach a goal.
4.POSITIVE ANGER EXPRESSION – is the most effective and remembered lesson taught in the program. Students learn that anger is a normal emotion that can be expressed in a constructive manner. This skill allows for the alleviation of angry feelings and becomes a bridge to goal attainment. Students learn anger management coping skills such as deep breathing exercises to elicit a relaxation response. Students learn effective techniques to express anger that avoid typical negative consequences (i.e. suspensions, arrests, damaged relationships, etc.).
5.VISIONARY GOAL SETTING – Students learn the difference between short-term and long-term goals and how to create realistic steps toward goal attainment. Students learn to envision their manhood in the future and to make clear connections between their current behaviors, attitudes and values and their vision. During this intense phase, students aim to get in touch with traumas, pains and faulty thinking that cause them to act in negative, destructive manners. They learn how to heal these parts of themselves and to use the energy toward attaining their vision. Not all students are ready for this phase of the program. However, it can be a life altering phase for those who are.
6. RESPECT FOR WOMANHOOD – Students go through three stages of learning. First, there are lectures and discussions around the history and contemporary roles that women have held in society. Students are challenged to take a critical look at which norms represent positive value and appreciation as opposed to depreciation, devaluing and oppression. Second, students learn concrete positive communication skills and begin using them during their interactions. As a result, students enter the final stage of training, wherein they increase their value and appreciation of womanhood.
B.A.M. – Sports Edition places special emphasis on issues surrounding respect and integrity. This value reinforces those important messages at a deeper level.

See, Therapy Helps Troubled Teens Rethink Crimehttp://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/02/188646607/therapy-helps-troubled-teens-rethink-crime?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=share&utm_campaign=

It is going to take coordination between not only education institutions, but a strong social support system to get many of these children through school. This does not mean a large program directed from Washington. But, more resources at the local school level which allow discretion with accountability. For example, if I child is not coming to school because they have no shoes or winter coat, then the child gets new shoes and/or a coat. School breakfast and lunch programs must be supported and if necessary, expanded. Unfortunately, schools are now the early warning system for many families in crisis.

Related:
Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Hard question: Does indigenous African-American culture support academic success?
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/hard-question-does-indigenous-african-american-culture-support-academic-success/

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