This week National Public Radio is featuring a series called “School”s Out: America’s Dropout Crisis” in which it looks at the dropout crisis through the stories of five people, three of whom have already dropped out and two who are at risk. The series overview can be found here. Today’s broadcast features the story of Patrick Lundvick, a Black teenager from Chicago who left school in the ninth grade, and has returned to a special charter school for dropouts after spending time in prison.
The national statistics on Black male high school graduates are devastating. Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education reveals that the overall 2007/8 graduation rate for Black males in the U.S. was only 47 percent. Half of the states have graduation rates for Black male students below the national average. New York City, the district with the nation’s highest enrollment of Black students, only graduates 28 percent of its Black male students with Regents diplomas on time. Overall, each year over 100,000 Black male students in New York City alone do not graduate from high school with their entering cohort.
Check out this NPR series which focuses on the human element of this national crisis. We cannot afford to be anything less than laser focused on the issues concerning the education of our boys and the educational reforms which are critical for their future.
Several months ago, GCP posted “Summer Planning”, which listed ways that you could help your son have a fun and productive summer. Now here are some suggestions of things you can do right now to help your son have a productive fall.
Summer Reading. How’s that summer reading going? Many schools assign books for each grade to read over the summer. Most have a recommended summer reading list for your son’s grade, even if they do not require that he read specific books. If your son’s school has neither, the internet is filled with summer reading lists, or you can consult your local public library. However your son’s summer reading list is derived, now is the time to check in with him to see how he is doing with it. An interesting and fun way to encourage summer reading (especially for the reluctant readers) is to get copies of the required readings and read the books along with your son. Time consuming, I know, but well worth it. Chatting about what you’ve read so far is a great way to get insight into your son’s reading style, comprehension, and interests. Talking about the reading with him helps him to retain what he has read. Sometimes you get to add some pretty interesting books to your summer reading list, either rereading classics you loved or being introduced to the works of new authors. And if you don’t like the book, you can talk about that with your son as well. But you both have to hang in there and finish it!
Be Mindful of Pre-Fall Deadlines and Get a Jump on the Fall. Do medical forms need to be updated? When do you need to sign up for any school based afterschool programs? Are you able to sign your son up for any art/music/ sports lessons or teams now? The start of school is hectic enough without layering all those crazy deadlines on top of it. Planning any extracurricular activities for your son now, if possible, can save you both from additional September stress. Can you knock out some school supply shopping now? Avoid the lines, and have a much greater selection of items. If you know that your son will need extra help with any of next year’s courses, now is the time to research and set up tutoring. Have a high school upperclassman? Take advantage of the relatively quiet summer months to consider when college visits and SAT prep will take place.
Spend Downtime with your Son. Don’t forget to make time to have lots of fun with your son during the summer. Build in as much time to chill with him as possible. This is a great time to discover and appreciate the interesting person he is becoming (or is on his way to becoming). It is important to be proactive about the fall, but don’t forget to enjoy the summer!
A study recently conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina concluded that the death rate was lower for Black men in prison than for those outside it. Take a look at theroot.com’s reporting of this study here. This kind of news gives us another good reason to make sure our sons flourish in school: so that they can learn how to conduct useful research and provide more thoughtful and balanced interpretations of it.
The New York Times online has a series called “Room for Debate”, in which it invites experts in the field to discuss news events and topical issues. Periodically the topic is education. The comments are often interesting and informative, and the format allows you to hear a variety of voices in the nation’s educational debate. Check out today’s topic, “How to Improve Summer School”, which can be found here, and the June 12th discussion on “Who’s Ready for Kindergarten”, found here.