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Project To Examine Role Of Black Male Teachers

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The District of Columbia school system is planning a summer program that will test the theory that young black males perform better in the early years of school if they have black male teachers.

The district will offer two six-week experimental classes this summer in which black males will teach remedial mathematics and reading skills to black male pupils in grades 1-3.

Spencer Holland, an educational psychologist working temporarily in the district's division of special education and pupil personnel services, said the early grades were chosen for the project because they represent the ages at which the influence of male role models--both at home and in school--is most crucial to later achievement.

"At the psychological and emotional level, kids really drop out [of school] in the 3rd and 4th grades,'' not in junior and senior high school, he said.

Mr. Holland has been a leading advocate of efforts to enlarge the pool of black male teachers nationally as a means of encouraging potential minority dropouts to remain in school. He said last week that he was pleased the district had been willing to test his theory. (See Education Week, March 25, 1987.)

James Guines, the district's associate superintendant for instruction, said the experimental program would affect only a small number of the 10,000 students who attend summer school in Washington.

Describing the plan as "a local effort to try to respond to a recommendation by one of our consultants,'' Mr. Guines said that more research would have to be completed before the concept could be tested more extensively in regular classrooms.

While more experimental classes are a possibility, Mr. Guines said, there "is a lot more than just the merits of the idea we have to consider.''

For instance, he said, administrators would have to examine the legal implications of segregating a coeducational school system into classes specifically designed to benefit boys. AP

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