A group of African-American school board members says such officials should hold themselves accountable for turning around the poor academic performance of black students.
Ron J. Price, a school board member who founded the National African American School Board Member Association, said some black school board members were eager to hold a forum to address the needs of black students, who often earn much lower test scores than their non-African-American peers.
“It’s time to stop blaming other folks,” Mr. Price said. “It’s time we stop being happy that we were elected and step up to the plate.”
Mr. Price, who has served on the Dallas school board for eight years, believes that African-American board members can significantly influence school improvement efforts in their communities.
He noted that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People can draft position papers and host conferences, but that black school board members can hire and fire superintendents and propose policies that can transform the way African-American students are taught.
The board members’ group, which hosts an annual meeting, last month held its third gathering in Charlotte, N.C. Andrew Young, a former congressman and Atlanta mayor, gave the keynote address, on student expectations. Attendees included superintendents, ministers, and college presidents.
People in the discussion sessions avoid using jargon such as “at risk” and “disadvantaged” students. Instead, the sessions are crafted to allow for open and honest talk about strategies that can boost African-American student achievement, Mr. Price said.
“We wanted to get right to the meat and right to the heart of the matter and tell everyone to leave their feelings at the door,” said Michael D. Scott, the association’s vice president and a school board member in Gary, Ind. “We don’t hold meetings to discuss the problems. We’re going for the solutions.”
Mr. Scott, a school board veteran of 12 years, said the association has provided black school board members with a much-needed network to seek advice, direction, and support. Often a black school board member is the lone person of color on the dais. “None of us can do this work alone,” Mr. Scott noted.