Encouraged by the success of its program designed to help black boys succeed in school, the Oakland, Calif., school system is launching a similar effort for girls.
The effort comes six years after the district began laying the foundation for its African American Male Achievement Program, which
Oakland was the first school district in the nation to create a department with the sole focus of helping black males. Since the initiative began, suspensions and absences have fallen for participating students, and graduation rates are on the uptick. Also, the participants in a related mentorship program have higher grade point averages than peers who don’t participate.
Christopher Chatmon, the district’s deputy equity chief and the founding director of the office of African-American Male Achievement, wants to offer that same support to black girls. Chatmon was among Education Week’s 2015 class of Leaders to Learn From.
Researchers have begun to spotlight the challenges that black girls face in U.S. schools. According to 2011-12 data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, black girls are 16 percent of the female student population in public schools in the United States but more than one-third of all female school-based arrests.
“Ultimately, we want to create an extraordinary learning environment that helps girls of color meet the goals of graduating and being college-ready or community-ready,” Chatmon told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We have work to do.”
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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.