D.C. Public Schools Announces Initiative to Focus on Black and Latino Males

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D.C. Public Schools has announced a new initiative that will train a “laser-like focus” on African American and Latino males, two groups that fare worst on many measures of academic achievement. But the effort, which includes a new all-boys high school, will inevitably leave some students in relative darkness.

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson recently unveiled a three-pronged program targeted at the 43 percent of DCPS students who are males of color. Spending $20 million over the next three years, DCPS plans to recruit 500 tutor-mentors, fund school-level programs aimed at engaging and supporting black and Hispanic boys, and — most ambitious — bring in a successful Chicago charter network to replicate its prep school model in D.C.

Many details are unclear. DCPS is already recruiting volunteer tutors for the four well-regarded tutoring programs it is partnering with, but at least one uses only paid tutors. More fundamental, it’s not clear exactly where the $20 million will come from, although DCPS hopes to raise at least $7.4 million of it from private donors.

Another question is whether Urban Prep Academies, the organization that will run DCPS’s prep school beginning in the fall of 2016, will enjoy the same degree of autonomy here that it’s had running three charter schools in Chicago. Henderson promised that Urban Prep will have “as many autonomies as they need to make it work,” but she added that the D.C. Council may need to change the law to make that possible.

Urban Prep has made headlines for getting 100 percent of its alumni into four-year colleges since it began graduating students five years ago. Its school uniform, which includes red ties and navy blazers adorned with the school crest and motto — “Credimus,” Latin for “We believe” — calls to mind an elite boys’ school such as St. Alban’s.

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Source: Washington Post |

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