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Documentary 'American Promise' Follows K-12 School Experience of Two Black Boys

'American Promise' shows how the reality of how racial dynamics play out today in education relates to the impact of perceptions about black boys.

In 1999, when we turned our camera on our son Idris, and his best friend Seun, they were beginning kindergarten at the prestigious Dalton School in New York City. We had great expectations for the boys and were eager to document their journey through school. We were confident that this incredible opportunity would set them on a course for academic success and we wanted to capture it all on film. But as we navigated the education system and wrestled with the same questions most new parents face, we knew that we had a different story to tell.

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Are Early Interventions the Key to Ending the Black Male Education Crisis?

Scholars say we need to focus intervention efforts for black boys on pre-K through third grade, but the methods raise plenty of questions.

With only eight percent of black male eighth graders enrolled in schools in urban areas scoring "proficient" on reading tests, and only 10 percent scoring "proficient" in math, intervention programs usually focus on boosting black male middle and high school results and improving high school graduation rates. However, a solution to the black male education crisis offered at a recent symposium held by the Education Testing Service and the Children's Defense Fund suggests a different approach: Reaching young black males when they're much younger—between pre-K and third grade.

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