Source: White House

President Obama announces commitments from 60 of the nation's largest urban school districts to join My Brother's Keeper Initiative during a town hall meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

* Story has been updated to include San Diego Unified as one of seven California districts participating in the initiative.

Seven California school districts are among 60 in the nation that are joining President Barack Obama’s initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” which supports African-American and Latino boys, beginning in preschool.

Collectively, the districts educate a third or more of the nation’s African-American and Latino students and nearly 40 percent of low-income boys of color, according to a press release issued today by the Council of the Great City Schools, based in Washington, D.C.

The California districts, all unified, are Los Angeles, San Diego*, Long Beach, Fresno, San Francisco, Sacramento City and Oakland.

The districts pledge to carry out 11 specific actions, including:

  • Ensuring that preschool efforts better serve African-American and Latino boys.
  • Implementing policies that increase the number of boys from these groups who graduate from high school and complete the federal form for college aid.
  • Keeping data and monitoring the progress of these boys and intervening at the earliest warning signs of problems.
  • Reducing the proportion of African-American and Latino boys who are absent, suspended or expelled.

Some of the California districts have already taken steps included in the initiative. Los Angeles and San Francisco have led the way in eliminating “willful defiance” as a reason to suspend or expel students because they considered it subjective and data showed that it was used disproportionately against African-American students. Oakland Unified has an African-American Male Achievement initiative.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy and the district’s board have been outspoken supporters of the Obama initiative.

“It was an honor to stand with President Obama and school board members from across the nation as we pledged to make real what is already the new reality in Los Angeles: we will support our young men of color as we collectively transform outcomes through changes in policy, investments, but most of all mindsets,” said L.A. Unified’s board Vice President Steve Zimmer in a press release.

The announcement listed a wide range of businesses and nonprofits that will be supporting the initiative, including Palo Alto-based Emerson Collective, founded by the late Steve Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell Jobs. The collective, which has pledged $50 million to the effort, plans to launch a competition to develop the best designs for next generation high schools.

“My Brother’s Keeper” is about “helping more of our young people stay on track, providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future,” Obama said while unveiling the initiative in February. He called on educators to build on what works “when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”


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  1. brenda crain 1 year ago1 year ago

    I am trying to locate My Brother’s Keeper organization near Belflower, Ca for my 16 year grandson, Jordan

  2. Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

    This ignores the real issue, tutoring, support, parenting (lack of 2-parent families), and most important of all, hours studied per week. You can provide all the support you want, if you study 3-5 hours a week (whites are at 5.6) and watch TV from age 6-15, you'll never compete with Asians who are studying an average of 16 hours a week, and the 34% of Asians (vs. 9% of whites) getting into a UC … Read More

    This ignores the real issue, tutoring, support, parenting (lack of 2-parent families), and most important of all, hours studied per week. You can provide all the support you want, if you study 3-5 hours a week (whites are at 5.6) and watch TV from age 6-15, you’ll never compete with Asians who are studying an average of 16 hours a week, and the 34% of Asians (vs. 9% of whites) getting into a UC are putting in over 25. You can dream all you want, but a motivational speech or statement won’t make up for thousands of hours of effort. We need to convince all kids to put education at the top of their priority list. Everything else is just feel good, change nothing stuff. Call me a skeptic. I think we’ll look back at this article in ten years and it will be like it was written yesterday because the key issues were ignored.

    Replies

    • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Why does everyone ignore the elephant in the room? You will never solve the achievement gap without addressing these issues. It'd be like one thousand kids running 2 hours a day and playing a sport and another thousand only playing video games and having no P.E. Class, and then you have a test to see which group can run faster on average. Any group that studies three times as much as another … Read More

      Why does everyone ignore the elephant in the room? You will never solve the achievement gap without addressing these issues. It’d be like one thousand kids running 2 hours a day and playing a sport and another thousand only playing video games and having no P.E. Class, and then you have a test to see which group can run faster on average. Any group that studies three times as much as another will win. The answer is finding a way to support parents and kids and convince them the importance of a more rigorous academic schedule including weekends, Summers, etc. We can call it ten different things over another 50 years, but the gap won’t disappear so long as we are in denial and ignore this. The situation is tragic but this is a solution which ignores the key issue.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        The people who write and support initiatives like this one or support bans on suspensions believe that underperformance is 100% a social ill rather than a personal one. Indeed there are social barriers to learning. For example, it's hard for students to do what you ask and study many hours per week without the support they need at home. Many students not only don't get that support the traumas they face make such efforts virtually … Read More

        The people who write and support initiatives like this one or support bans on suspensions believe that underperformance is 100% a social ill rather than a personal one. Indeed there are social barriers to learning. For example, it’s hard for students to do what you ask and study many hours per week without the support they need at home. Many students not only don’t get that support the traumas they face make such efforts virtually impossible. That’s why in-school factors must try to make up for out of school factors. That’s one reason why school should be longer for students who can’t work at home. But teaching unions will never allow a longer school day and so charters must do it. You have to understand that some kids have never brought their homework or backpack home. They are so divorced from the process it is just a pipe dream to think those kids are suddenly going to start putting their nose to the grindstone. You have to have a community schools and a several layers of support to change behaviors.

        • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

          Unions shouldn't allow longer school days as long as the way it's achieved is just to give teachers yet another additional responsibility while continuing to cut their support staff. Anyway, some of our district's TPSs have Saturday intervention for english learner families. And many teachers I know are on campus as much as 12 hours a day to provide support for students. So it's simply not true that 'nothing happens' all because of 'the union' Read More

          Unions shouldn’t allow longer school days as long as the way it’s achieved is just to give teachers yet another additional responsibility while continuing to cut their support staff. Anyway, some of our district’s TPSs have Saturday intervention for english learner families. And many teachers I know are on campus as much as 12 hours a day to provide support for students. So it’s simply not true that ‘nothing happens’ all because of ‘the union’

          • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            The real answer is to take what is best about charters and move that to all schools. Longer hours, more money towards tutoring and support, freedom to fire bad teachers, virtually everyone agrees these things are good for children, so let's make all schools have these rules. This way there will be no distinction between charter and non-charter. Let freedom reign. Also, Don is right. Why don't we study why Asians have … Read More

            The real answer is to take what is best about charters and move that to all schools. Longer hours, more money towards tutoring and support, freedom to fire bad teachers, virtually everyone agrees these things are good for children, so let’s make all schools have these rules. This way there will be no distinction between charter and non-charter. Let freedom reign.

            Also, Don is right. Why don’t we study why Asians have better results despite facing equal amounts of historical racism. We can then pass this knowledge onto parents of all races and improve performance, parenting and income of all groups. If you don’t pay attention to those who thrive and how they do it, it’s hard to get everyone to thrive. It takes an open eye and an open mind.

        • Celeste Phooey Condon 2 years ago2 years ago

          Don, you have no idea what these kids have gone through. These kids have gangs around them, moms on drugs, being essentially raped by opportunistic Johns and human traffickers. These kids have nothing. A few bucks won't help. Crumbs. A tutor won't help. They don't need to study more and be told they can compete with more priveleged kids so they feel like losers. They need a hug. They need … Read More

          Don, you have no idea what these kids have gone through. These kids have gangs around them, moms on drugs, being essentially raped by opportunistic Johns and human traffickers. These kids have nothing. A few bucks won’t help. Crumbs. A tutor won’t help. They don’t need to study more and be told they can compete with more priveleged kids so they feel like losers. They need a hug. They need love and support and empathy and to be taught to fight to overthrow the corrupt system and qualify for welfare so they don’t sell out. They need to fight for minimum wage. No CEO works 10 times as hard as they do let alone 10,000. Rubbish.

          We should increase teacher’s pay significantly for giving them the love and support no one else will, for helping their souls, not for test scores. We shouldn’t tie self-respect to test scores. We don’t want these kids to sell out to Corporate America, we want them to overthrow it. Fight for minimum wage that is a living wage, a doubled or tripled minimum wage paid for by a wealth tax on billionaires like you who laugh at them and mock them. Tutoring and pressure will only make these kids sad for what they don’t have. They need to believe in a better society, not fit into an evil white system of oppression. You have no idea how much abuse they have endured.

  3. Martha Alvarez 2 years ago2 years ago

    Susan, thanks for covering this initiative and the commitment from some of California’s largest urban school districts to young boys and men of color. San Diego Unified is also one of California’s 7 urban districts who signed on to the Pledge, in case you want to include the District in your story. You can find the complete list of Districts here: http://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/4/Males%20of%20Color%20Initiative–Press%20Release_Pledge.pdf

    Replies

    • Susan Frey 2 years ago2 years ago

      Thanks Martha. Unfortunately I missed San Diego’s name on the list. I updated the story.

    • don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Excuse me but this effort leaves out many people of color. It singles out blacks and Latinos.

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