On Friday at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, the White House will launch a nationwide tour intended to collect ideas on how to help Black boys succeed in school and beyond.
Coordinated by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, the tour will consist of summits in four cities. Educators, experts and young people will come together to discuss the challenges facing African-American males and the solutions that are being implemented all across the United States.
The summits are directly linked to President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign announced by the president last month at the White House. Summits will also be held later in the year in Jackson, Mississippi; Oakland, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are being held in partnership with Ebony magazine, which published a ground-breaking series called “Saving Our Sons” in the magazine throughout 2013.
One of the main goals of the summit meetings will be to hear from researchers and educators who can share their ideas on how to reduce or eliminate the African-American achievement gap, according to David Johns, executive director of the White House initiative on African-American education. Johns said he will be working closely with Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, who will direct a task force that will spearhead the “Brother’s Keeper” campaign.
“We need as many conversations as possible that focus on how to improve education,” Johns said. “We want to let people know that this isn’t just a Washington conversation.”
Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and chair of a new commission working with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, said in order for the president’s new initiative to succeed, educators must find ways to help underperforming students thrive under Common Core, the new and more rigorous academic standards that schools in 45 states are beginning to implement.
“Common Core has the potential to have a very a positive impact on learning but we have to think about implementation,” Hrabowski says. “We need to give teachers the professional development they need to implement these new standards. Some schools may need to provide additional time and instruction to help [underperforming] students adjust – more after-school and summer programs.”
Along with Hrabowski, Morehouse College President John Wilson and Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, are some of the higher education leaders scheduled to speak at the event. Speaker panels will also include John Eaves, chair of the Fulton County Commission; Atlanta City Council President, Ceasar Mitchell; Atlanta Board of Education Chair, Courtney English; and executives from Coca Cola, Deloitte Consulting and Netflix.
In addition to leaders from politics, academia and the corporate world, the summit will kick off with the voices of young men, as a panel of students talk about the myths and misperceptions they must battle as young African-American males in a discussion moderated by Nick Chiles, writer of the Ebony series.