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Why are so many black boys missing so much school?

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Chronic absence, suspension derail Oakland black boys

arieliona/istockphoto.com

High rates of chronic absence, suspension and poor academic performance signal that more than half of African American male students in the Oakland Unified School District are at risk of dropping out, according to new research.

The Urban Strategies Council, an Oakland-based community advocacy organization, found significant disparities between African American boys and their peers: Fifty-five percent of black boys in the 2010-11 school year were falling off course from graduation or were at risk of doing so, compared with 37.5 percent of students overall in the district.

From kindergarten through 12th grade, researchers found that black boys struggled with regular attendance and suspensions and scoring proficiently on standardized tests or maintaining grades above a C average – warning signs that they might drop out.

Among African American males who were not on track to graduate, 73 percent in elementary school were chronically absent, missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, according to the findings released this week. In middle school, the same percentage had been suspended at least once. Nearly two-thirds of high schoolers were chronically absent and had less than a C average; 41 percent had been suspended at least once.

"We need to understand what's going on if we're going to effectively intervene and improve outcomes and graduation and success of African American males," said Junious Williams, chief executive officer of the council. 

The council's reports on dropout indicators are part of Oakland Unified's African American Male Achievement Initiative, an effort launched in 2010 to improve academic and social equity for black boys. The findings provide "a sense of urgency" for the district, said Chris Chatmon, executive director of the district's Office of African American Male Achievement. 

Chatmon, who plans to hold a community meeting next month to discuss the council's findings, said improving attendance among black boys requires working with other agencies and the community and presents different challenges in different age groups.

In kindergarten and first grade, African American boys in the district were more than four times as likely as their white peers to be chronically absent, the council found. 

"Five-year-olds don't miss school without an adult knowing at home," said Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, an initiative that seeks to improve student success by reducing chronic absence. 

Families might face hurdles, such as transportation or health problems, in getting their young children to school, or they might not understand the importance of kindergarten, said Chang, who has worked with Oakland Unified to address chronic absenteeism. 

"Once you miss a month or more of school, and you miss a month or more in kindergarten and first, you're not on track for reading in third grade," she said. "We've got to make sure kids have a chance to start on the right track."

One way the district has tried to target chronic absenteeism among young black students is by working with the Oakland Housing Authority. Forty percent of students at four West Oakland schools live in public housing; 30 percent of those students were chronically absent in 2010-11. Chatmon said the district saw an uptick in school registration by reaching out to West Oakland families living in public housing.

By the time black boys reach middle and high school, different factors begin to undermine attendance, Chatmon said.

"Street culture becomes more attractive than learning and school culture," he said. "How do we define school culture? What is it? What would get our students getting up at 5 in the morning, running to school? … You get school culture right, then you will produce African American boys that produce high academic outcomes."

Cultural clashes and misunderstandings also factor into high rates of suspension among black boys, Chatmon and Williams said. 

"We still have a teaching and administrative body that doesn't … understand the cultural context of where our students come from," Chatmon said. "We have to do a lot of work with our adults to authentically engage with our boys, with our families, to understand our community context."

African American boys made up 17 percent of Oakland Unified students in 2010-11, yet they represented 42 percent of students suspended. Disruption or defiance of authority was the most common reason for discipline, accounting for 38 percent of their suspensions.

Subjective standards for disruption and defiance – the reason behind more than 40 percent of suspensions in California and the recent target of criticism and legislative action – could be contributing to high suspension rates among black boys, Williams said.

The council recommended that Oakland Unified carefully monitor such offenses and clearly define what constitutes impermissible behavior. The district also needs strategies for prevention and intervention so students are not suspended for single incidents, Williams said.

In many ways, Chatmon said, that work already has started.

"This is a 'we' problem," he said. "We are taking this on with the frame of full-service community schools that call out everybody, humbly. We can't do it in isolation."

http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/chronic-absence-suspension-derail-oakland-black-boys-16298

by on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Replies (31-40):
tiffyhamm
by on Nov. 14, 2012 at 8:26 PM
1 mom liked this

*shrugs* I don't know, maybe you can find out if there has been some sort of study that addresses this problem?  Maybe there's something out there that asks parents what is keeping them from making sure their children, especially those students in pre-k and primary school?  Finding out why they are missing school from the parents themselves is definitely a good place to start.  I make sure my kids make it to school every single day.  I understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten (school period).  Now, in my old neighborhood, many parents didn't fully understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten, they felt that it was okay if their child missed a few school days for whatever reason (be it illness, transportation issues, work issues, housing issues as many were homeless, etc)...I mean, they were just learning to write lines on paper?  It's not like it's Geometry.  For others, they didn't have reliable transportation and the district's busing system was far worse than the city's busing system.  For many more others their schooling would conflict with work schedules, they couldn't be there to take their child to school or they couldn't pick them up and they would have to leave them with a grandparent who lived two districts over for a couple of days. 

There's several issues, but I think the best way to address the situation is to figure out what is causing them to miss school, especially those of ages (pre-k and primary school) in which they typically don't make the decision to just skip school.  Those in middle school and beyond the issue is just as complicated and several factors contribute to missed school.  Often many skip because they do not understand the coursework and become frustrated, they don't see the value in school, they aren't surrounded by peers and role models (outside of parent(s)) doing well in school, doing well as the result of a good education, or pushing the value of a good education, etc.

emeraldangel2.0
by on Nov. 14, 2012 at 8:32 PM

they've probably had it drilled in their heads that they are worthless since an early age, and it's just self fufilling prophecy at this point. sad but probably true.

desertlvn
by Silver Member on Nov. 14, 2012 at 8:43 PM


Quoting emeraldangel2.0:

they've probably had it drilled in their heads that they are worthless since an early age, and it's just self fufilling prophecy at this point. sad but probably true.

*sigh* I have run across so many parents who treat their kids with disdain and throw cruel words at them. This could be part of the problem.

MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Racism is alive, well and thriving.  A county in Mississippi was only just brought up on charges by the Justice Dept on their classroom to jail pipeline they've been running for years.  Black kids were being taken into custody for not completing homework, swearing and being tardy...etc.   

Quoting Citygirlk:

Happened to my brother and mixed race cousins. My mom and aunt ended up putting them in a different school.

Quoting futureshock:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Black and white boys are treated differently in schools by teachers and the administration from day one.  They feel this bias.  Public schools that predominately serve black students are on the low end for receiving local, state and government funds.  Then to make the racial matter worse, the `adminstrators' use a racist tool to keep them in and interested in school -- incentives through playing basketball.  Not all black students are interested in sports, much less will find an identity within the school through the sport.

I find this hard to believe, because it would mean that teachers are disproportionately racist.  I cannot imagine little 5 year olds are missing school so much because their teachers are mean to them.


Citygirlk
by Gold Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:15 PM
Some are just blind smh.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Racism is alive, well and thriving.  A county in Mississippi was only just brought up on charges by the Justice Dept on their classroom to jail pipeline they've been running for years.  Black kids were being taken into custody for not completing homework, swearing and being tardy...etc.   


Quoting Citygirlk:

Happened to my brother and mixed race cousins. My mom and aunt ended up putting them in a different school.


Quoting futureshock:




Quoting MeAndTommyLee:


Black and white boys are treated differently in schools by teachers and the administration from day one.  They feel this bias.  Public schools that predominately serve black students are on the low end for receiving local, state and government funds.  Then to make the racial matter worse, the `adminstrators' use a racist tool to keep them in and interested in school -- incentives through playing basketball.  Not all black students are interested in sports, much less will find an identity within the school through the sport.


I find this hard to believe, because it would mean that teachers are disproportionately racist.  I cannot imagine little 5 year olds are missing school so much because their teachers are mean to them.



Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
futureshock
by Ruby Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM


Quoting Citygirlk:

Happened to my brother and mixed race cousins. My mom and aunt ended up putting them in a different school.

Quoting futureshock:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Black and white boys are treated differently in schools by teachers and the administration from day one.  They feel this bias.  Public schools that predominately serve black students are on the low end for receiving local, state and government funds.  Then to make the racial matter worse, the `adminstrators' use a racist tool to keep them in and interested in school -- incentives through playing basketball.  Not all black students are interested in sports, much less will find an identity within the school through the sport.

I find this hard to believe, because it would mean that teachers are disproportionately racist.  I cannot imagine little 5 year olds are missing school so much because their teachers are mean to them.

What happened exactly?

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:29 PM


Quoting greenie63:

Many African American males are growing up without a positive male role model in the home, that's one contributing factor. There also needs to be more African American male teachers in the school system. 

My professor who is lecturing my Saturday class works in one of the nations worst school districts, Washington DC. He is constantly telling us stories about the students he has to track and they are mostly sad. 

The article isn't surprising to me, the question is how can we change it? 

I think your idea about the AA male teachers is a great idea.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:37 PM


Quoting tiffyhamm:

*shrugs* I don't know, maybe you can find out if there has been some sort of study that addresses this problem?  Maybe there's something out there that asks parents what is keeping them from making sure their children, especially those students in pre-k and primary school?  Finding out why they are missing school from the parents themselves is definitely a good place to start.  I make sure my kids make it to school every single day.  I understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten (school period).  Now, in my old neighborhood, many parents didn't fully understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten, they felt that it was okay if their child missed a few school days for whatever reason (be it illness, transportation issues, work issues, housing issues as many were homeless, etc)...I mean, they were just learning to write lines on paper?  It's not like it's Geometry.  For others, they didn't have reliable transportation and the district's busing system was far worse than the city's busing system.  For many more others their schooling would conflict with work schedules, they couldn't be there to take their child to school or they couldn't pick them up and they would have to leave them with a grandparent who lived two districts over for a couple of days. 

There's several issues, but I think the best way to address the situation is to figure out what is causing them to miss school, especially those of ages (pre-k and primary school) in which they typically don't make the decision to just skip school.  Those in middle school and beyond the issue is just as complicated and several factors contribute to missed school.  Often many skip because they do not understand the coursework and become frustrated, they don't see the value in school, they aren't surrounded by peers and role models (outside of parent(s)) doing well in school, doing well as the result of a good education, or pushing the value of a good education, etc.

Thank you for that informative answer.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:38 PM


Quoting emeraldangel2.0:

they've probably had it drilled in their heads that they are worthless since an early age, and it's just self fufilling prophecy at this point. sad but probably true.

Who would drill that into the heads of little kids?

tiffyhamm
by on Nov. 15, 2012 at 8:42 PM

 

Quoting futureshock:


Quoting tiffyhamm:

*shrugs* I don't know, maybe you can find out if there has been some sort of study that addresses this problem?  Maybe there's something out there that asks parents what is keeping them from making sure their children, especially those students in pre-k and primary school?  Finding out why they are missing school from the parents themselves is definitely a good place to start.  I make sure my kids make it to school every single day.  I understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten (school period).  Now, in my old neighborhood, many parents didn't fully understand the importance of pre-k and kindergarten, they felt that it was okay if their child missed a few school days for whatever reason (be it illness, transportation issues, work issues, housing issues as many were homeless, etc)...I mean, they were just learning to write lines on paper?  It's not like it's Geometry.  For others, they didn't have reliable transportation and the district's busing system was far worse than the city's busing system.  For many more others their schooling would conflict with work schedules, they couldn't be there to take their child to school or they couldn't pick them up and they would have to leave them with a grandparent who lived two districts over for a couple of days. 

There's several issues, but I think the best way to address the situation is to figure out what is causing them to miss school, especially those of ages (pre-k and primary school) in which they typically don't make the decision to just skip school.  Those in middle school and beyond the issue is just as complicated and several factors contribute to missed school.  Often many skip because they do not understand the coursework and become frustrated, they don't see the value in school, they aren't surrounded by peers and role models (outside of parent(s)) doing well in school, doing well as the result of a good education, or pushing the value of a good education, etc.

Thank you for that informative answer.

i rambled through that entire response, my brain is not really wanting to get all that deep nowadays, i had more thoughts, but had no way of knowing how i wanted to put them into words that were understandable and i now no longer know what those thoughts were, lol.

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