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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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Mock Slave Auctions: How Not to Teach Kids About America's History

When it come to educating kids about slavery, teachers should think twice about the appropriateness of their hands on learning activities.


When it comes to educating kids about the Civil War and slavery, teachers might want to think twice about the appropriateness of their experiential learning activities. According to the Washington Post, Jessica Boyle, a fourth grade teacher at Sewells Point Elementary School in Norfolk chose to teach a lesson on the Civil War by turning her classroom into a slave auction. Boyle segregated her students—black and mixed race students on one side of the room, and white students on the other. The teacher then had the white students, all around ten years old, play the role of slave master and take turns purchasing their black and biracial peers.

The incident came to light after parents, understandably, complained. The school's principal, Mary B. Wrushen, sent a letter home stating that although Boyle's "actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students." Wrushen said the lesson was not supported by the school or district and acknowledged that it "could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation."

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Geoffrey Canada Tells Stephen Colbert Racism Has Nothing to Do with the Achievement Gap

The Waiting for Superman star says teachers unions are to blame for everything wrong in public education.

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Why isn’t public education fixed yet? According to the Harlem Children’s Zone founder and Waiting for Superman star Geoffrey Canada, if teachers unions didn’t exist, all would be well in our nation’s schools. Such talk is par for the course for Canada, but on Tuesday night’s episode of The Colbert Report, he added something new to his education reform spiel. Canada claimed that racism has nothing to do with the achievement gap.

When Colbert asked Canada to explain what the achievement gap is, Canada replied, “As soon as we can test kids, we find between a 25- to 35-point difference between white kids and black kids in math and in reading.”

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