The release of "A Pledge by America's Great City Schools," on Monday by the White House, the U.S. Department of Education and 60 big-city public school districts represents a unified stance by the school systems to improve achievement of young males of color.
The pledge calls for the school districts to boost efforts to prepare males of color for college and careers, reduce the disproportionate suspensions and dropouts of males of color and to help them succeed. The pledge is one component of President Obama's five-year, $200 million initiative My Brother's Keeper that addresses persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.
With roughly 32 percent of the nation's school-age African American males and 39 percent of the country's school-age Hispanic males enrolled in large urban districts, leaders agree that they have an obligation to teach all students at the highest academic standards and prepare them for today's global society.
"We are committed to eliminating the racial achievement gap in Saint Paul Public Schools," said Supt. Silva. "This is work that must happen, important work that makes a difference in the lives
of our youth for generations to come. This pledge only deepens my commitment to end racial disparities in SPPS."
Supt. Silva, who has served as the Chair of the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) for the past year, focused her leadership on racial equity and the racial achievement gaps in public education. The pledge is the Council's call to action for its member districts and others that are willing to commit to the pledge.
The pledge has 11 specific actions and seeks support from the nonprofit and private sectors that are being coordinated by the Council of Great City Schools.
A Pledge by America's Great City Schools:
• Whereas, some 32 percent of the nation's African American males and some 39 percent of the nation's Hispanic males attend school each day in one of the Great City School systems; and
• Whereas, the academic achievement of Males of Color in the nation's urban school systems and nationally is well below what it needs to be for these young people to be successful in college and careers; and
• Whereas, disproportionate numbers of Males of Color drop out of urban schools and often have low attendance rates; and
• Whereas, Males of Color disproportionately attend under-resourced schools and are taught by the least-effective teachers; and
• Whereas, the nation's Great City Schools have an obligation to teach all students under their aegis to the highest academic standards and prepare them for successful participation in our nation;
Be It Therefore Resolved that:
• The Great City Schools pledge to ensure that its pre-school efforts better serve Males of Color and their academic and social development, and
• That the Great City Schools will adopt and implement elementary and middle school efforts to increase the pipeline of Males of Color who are succeeding academically and socially in our urban schools and who are on track to succeed in high school, and
• That the Great City Schools will keep data and establish protocols that will allow it to monitor the progress of Males of Color and other students in our schools and appropriately intervene at the earliest warning signs; and
• That the Great City Schools will adopt and implement promising and proven approaches to reducing absenteeism, especially chronic absenteeism, among Males of Color, and
• That the Great City Schools will develop initiatives and regularly report on progress in retaining Males of Color in school and reducing disproportionate suspension and expulsion
• That the Great City Schools will develop initiatives and regularly report on progress in increasing the numbers of our Males of Color and other students participating in advanced placement and honors courses and gifted and talented programs, and
• That the Great City Schools will strongly encourage colleges of education to adopt curriculum that addresses the academic, cultural, and social needs of Males of Color, and that the district will maintain data on how these teachers do with our Males of Color, and
• That the Great City Schools will develop initiatives and regularly report on progress in increasing the numbers of Males of Color and other students who complete the FAFSA, and
• That the Great City Schools will work to reduce as appropriate the disproportionate numbers of Males of Color in special education courses, and
• That the Great City Schools will work to transform high schools with persistently low graduation rates among Males of Color and others and to provide literacy and engagement initiatives with parents.
• That the Great City Schools will engage in a broader discussion and examination of how issues of race, language, and culture affect the work of our district.