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Panel Examines Problems Faced By Black Males

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Major changes in school policies are needed in order to address the problems faced by disadvantaged black males in Ohio, a panel established by Gov. Richard F. Celeste said last week.

The educational recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Socially Disadvantaged Black Males were contained in a report that also covered such topics as health, employment, and criminal justice.

The commission was critical, for example, of the state's new multitiered diploma system, under which some students will receive certificates of attendance rather than a diploma.

It warned that black males who leave school with only an attendance certificate "will be seen as less attractive in the labor market and will have little or no chance of obtaining entrance to a college or university."

Suspension Policies Hit

Noting research showing Ohio to have the nation's highest rate of suspensions and expulsions of black male students--and that such disciplinary actions are major contributors to their dropout rate--the commission also recommended that districts eliminate out-of-school suspensions.

Instead, districts should use in-school suspensions and Saturday school, the report suggests.

The commission also called for full funding of preschool and Head Start programs and elimination of the practice of grouping students by ability.

In addition, the report proposes stepped-up efforts to ensure that all black males master basic skills by the 4th grade. It also suggests that all remedial programs for disadvantaged students be moved to the end of the school day and to the summer.

The panel also urged that more attention be paid to improving the attitudes of black males and of the educational system toward each other.

To that end, commission members proposed using a multicultural curriculum, extensive efforts to recruit black male educators and teach parents how to have greater access to the educational system, and establishment of a requirement that all school personnel participate in human-relations training.--p.s.

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