Notes from The Black and Latino Males in High School Forum

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

Black Male Student and Teacher Writing on Blackboard

Black Male Student and Teacher Writing on Blackboard

On November 24th, 2009 at around 9am, I had the distinct pleasure of going to the NYU Metropolitan Center Policy for Urban Education Educational Forum. The topic was “How are Black and Latino males faring in our high schools?” hosted and moderated by Dr. Pedro Noguera, professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University and Executive Director of the Metro Center and the co-Director of the Institute for the study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS). As you can expect, the tension in the air was a bit palpable, because we truly wanted to see just how desperate the situation is with them, but also because we wanted to see whether they’d get to the heart of the matter or simply skim over the finer parts with no real discussion.

Here are some of my bullet points (and for those in NYC, I may share more of my notes on ARIS and also by request)

– FIrst, it’s easy to forget that the plight of males in education doesn’t just extend to Black and Latino males, though it’s most severe in those cases. The lack of male participation in education is really disappointing except in a very small select group of privileged boys who “eventually run the country.” (quoted from Dean Mary Brabeck) In a related point, David Banks, founder of the Eagle Academy for Young Men School and founder of One Hundred Black Men Inc., said, “Black and Latino kids need the same thing everybody else needs, but you’d think that we were talking about another species.” It made me think about the proportion of positive and reaffirming energies we give to our children relative to the energy we give to other people’s children.

– Dr. Pedro Noguera likened his affinity for public schools to the New York Knicks saying, “Even though it’s hard to be a fan of the Knicks, I still support them” to a rousing laugh. He was quick to mention that NYC has a higher rate of high-performing high-poverty schools than any other place of its kind, but there’s also a disproportionate amount of Black / Latino makes not succeeding. We know the consequences of “dropping out” are serious and have to understand the implications of failure.

– Ben Meade, research associate for the Metro Center, then presented the statistics for us. To go more in depth, please check this link. I’ll go over some of these in brief:

  • Black and Latino male dropouts tend to be overage.
  • A large portion of those males stayed 3 years, but eventually dropped out.
  • The males also repeated grades often (the data takes into account boys who graduate in 4, 5, and 6 years).
  • A strong indicator of dropouts is whether they completed 9 or less credits by freshman year or not.
  • A moderate indicator of whether they’d drop out is if they got a level 1 in math in 8th grade, and if they were designated ELLs on or after 7th grade.

– Better schools usually had three (rather obvious) indicators

  • High academic expectations
  • Good communication
  • Safety and respect

– Noguera and others mentioned that this study “is not about gotcha, but trying to solve problems.” He was quick to mention that there were lots of factors that had high correlations, including living in housing projects, going to larger high schools, and poverty rates of neighborhoods.

– Noguera then gave some policy considerations for the principals, administrators, and educational think-tankers in the room

  • Carefully consider the potential implications of the phasing out of the local diploma (in favor of a Regents diploma) for the most vulnerale and poorly served students
  • Implement strategies that are shown to be responsive to vulnerable student populations
  • Develop stronger and broader array of resources for supporting student in areas where levels of need are most critical
  • There’s no recipe for success, but traits, so every school needs to decide how they run a successful school
  • There’s a school that already starts counseling by the 3rd grade. In other words, “proactive mentoring works! We’re not going to wait ’til middle school.”
  • The system should target support to chronically under-performing schools (there was a concern here that simply closing down schools wasn’t enough)
  • The splitting of schools can be detrimental since “sometimes in the same school, you’ll have some kids who get sponsored with laptops in the same place with kids that don’t.”
  • Expose teachers and administrators to practices used by more successful schools
  • There is a relationship between kids who have a certain number of infractions against them and how many times they go to school. (We need to be careful about how punitive our system is if we’re trying to have students go to school)
  • Lastly, we should have model schools that people can go to to learn more.

There is a second half to this blog entry including panelists like Merryl Tisch, Santiago Taveras, Roger Blissett, David Banks, and Juan Mendez. These ladies and gentlemen made some great points concerning racism, running effective schools, and having an activist approach to running schools. Stay tuned.

Mr. Vilson, who has had these privileges left and right …