Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The Trouble with Black Boys"

When I first read that title I was shocked. It brought up a bit of defensiveness within me, but it also intrigued me. I decided it would be a good fit. It's the book my boyfriend and I are reading as part of a project within the school district Sean attends. Community Awareness for Student Achievement is designed to bring together community members to study the impact of poverty and race on student learning.

I wanted to be part of it for a variety of reasons. First, I'm a white mom raising a biracial boy. I invited Chuck to do this with me because he has become a big part of Sean's life. He really is helping me raise him and I think it's important for both of us to know more about the issues facing biracial boys these days.
I'm also very passionate about education and believe we should all be doing more to figure out why these boys, especially, are falling through the cracks.

Last night was our first meeting at a high school in the city. We were served dinner, received our books and were put into book club groups. Child care was even provided by the YMCA.

There are nine in our group. We met our facilitator and went to a classroom and got to know a little bit about each other. We then decided to divide the book into chapters, with a couple of people taking each chapter as a focus. Our next meeting will focus on the first half of the book. We will meet one more time to finish up the book.

These nine people are from different ethnic and professional backgrounds. I think we all have a unique perspective and it's exciting to be part of this project. Our facilitator was in high school during desegregation in the South. There are two biracial participants, one is a teacher and the other works with at-risk youth ages 16 to 24. There's a woman from Cambodia who works with at-risk students, an Asian principal of an elementary school, a white principal, a white nutritionist who visits elementary schools to teach nutrition, Chuck who grew up in a diverse environment with friends of all colors, and sees all types of family situations as a firefighter,  and myself.

We will read this book as other groups read other titles: "Teaching with Poverty in Mind," "Can We Talk About Race," "The Global Achievement Gap," "Lessons from High Performing Hispanic Schools," and "Whatever it Takes."

Each group will share how new ideas from these books can be incorporated into the way the district educates students.

This district does seem to be very forward thinking and willing to embrace new ways of teaching. There is a renowned psychologist and doctor who is talking tonight about the differences between girls and boys and how best to educate them, and this idea has been implemented at one school in the district.
I won't be able to attend, but I'm hoping to hear from either a parent or teacher who is going.

Maybe it's a coincidence, but it does seem to me the movie, "Waiting for Superman," has gotten the attention of educators and parents. This district, at least, is trying to look at ways to improve.

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