Ron Brown Part 2 Bluest Eye 2000
Equity & Diversity Audio

‘They Can’t Just Be Average': Profound Academic Challenges in a D.C. School for Young Black Men

By Kavitha Cardoza & Cory Turner — October 25, 2017 1 min read
Equity & Diversity Audio

‘They Can’t Just Be Average': Profound Academic Challenges in a D.C. School for Young Black Men

By Kavitha Cardoza & Cory Turner — October 25, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Raising Kings: A Three-Part Audio Series From Education Week/NPR (Episode 2)

If you’ve been following this audio series, you know about Ron Brown College Prep, the remarkable new D.C. school designed specifically to meet the needs of young men of color.

In episode one, you met the principal and learned about the school’s core philosophy—placing high expectations on its students—known as “kings”—and infusing love into their schooling experience.

In the second episode, Ron Brown’s unique CARE team and the teaching faculty continue their focus on nurturing students’ social and emotional growth. But their time becomes increasingly dominated by a few kings who are getting into trouble.

The school’s commitment to never suspending a student is put to the test by some serious incidents, including a couple of staff members who are assaulted. And there is pushback from some parents who are deeply skeptical of this unfamiliar approach to discipline.

Meanwhile, the profound academic gaps among students have become glaringly obvious. Some kings are reading on the 1st grade level and struggling with even the most basic math concepts. Others are reading on the 10th grade level and able to do college-prep math.

Teachers are worried about both extremes—how to accelerate years of literacy work into a few months for the kings who are woefully behind and how to keep high-performing students from becoming bored and complacent among so many peers who are years behind them academically.

And morale is beginning to flag as pressure mounts on the Ron Brown faculty to squeeze two years of learning into one year of teaching and ultimately, to prove that this radically different approach to educating students won’t be a failure. Can it be done?

"School has to come first. … If you leave high school and you still make a 600 on the SAT, nobody cares how much you were loved." — Shaka Greene, Math teacher
"If I’m tough on them, it’s because I have high expectations for them." — Schalette Gudger, English teacher
"I do this corny thing called, ‘Let me give you a tool for your toolbox.’ … I give lots of tools every day." — Travis Bouldin, World History teacher

Listen to Episode Two

This episode originally aired Oct. 25, 2017 on NPR’s Code Switch. It’s introduced by Code Switch’s Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby.

Browse other episodes: Episode One | Episode Three


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty