It’s only taken a couple centuries, but young Black men are finally becoming a priority in America. We’ve told you on this very Web site about programs designed to benefit Black males in Ohio and one in Philadelphia that even involved the mayor’s office. Now, a new project in San Diego is moving forward to try and help young Black men despite the fact that it has yet to achieve funding. That’s just how important it is to people.
The San Diego Unified School District is moving forward with a program designed to help the district’s African-American and African students achieve more. About 12 percent of the district’s students are African-American or African, and they’re four times as likely to be suspended from school. The new program, designed with the help of the Association of African-American Educators, seeks to change that. The program was supposed to have more than $3 million in funding, but budget cuts have whittled that away to nothing. Still, the educators are moving forward with their plans.
Schools will try things like single-gender classes for middle schools, the reassessment of hiring practices in order to recruit more minority teachers, and mentorship, the hope being that the achievement gap will at least be narrowed at the end of the first year. Despite the fact that the program doesn’t have any money, leaders are optimistic and determined. The superintendant of San Diego Unified, Bill Kowba, said there would be “no excuses for failing to act.”
Exactly why so many schools and cities around the country have decided that now is the time to act on the Black achievement gap is unknown. But the fact that it’s happening with such eagerness is exciting. Still, it should give African-Americans some pause to remember that promises like this seem to come along once every few years, and once every few years people find a way to mess things up. Let’s hope for the best this time, but let’s also prepare to help ourselves when real government action once again fails to materialize.
(Photo: Beverly Taylor/Birmingham News/Landov)