Kansas City Public Schools has joined President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, pledging to increase the academic and social outcomes of boys and young men of color.
Superintendent Stephen Green on Monday joined the president and officials from more than 60 big-city public school districts for an unveiling event in Washington, D.C. Obama earlier this year announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” plan to create more opportunities for young males of color, reduce poor living conditions and the disproportionate number of minority males who end up in the juvenile justice system and prisons.
Obama initially enlisted businesses, foundations and community groups to invest and create support mechanisms to keep youths in school and out of the criminal justice system. Now the president is enlisting schools to reduce the dropout rate, suspensions and better prepare male students of color for college and careers.
It’s a good plan, and the Kansas City school district with about 16,000 students needs to be involved. The effort encourages more wrap-around social services, summer school attendance, greater access to high quality preschool; monitoring students’ academic progress with early intervention when needed; reducing absences from schools, suspensions, expulsions and kids being inappropriately placed in special education classes; improving the scholastic quality of Kansas City high schools with more advanced placement course offerings; and getting students to complete financial aid and other forms so they can enter college.
The president also got a five-year commitment from the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and the National Basketball Retired Players Association to help recruit and provide 25,000 mentors for young people of color (with special emphasis on recruiting men of color).
It’s all an improving effort to change the life outcomes of young males of color. Getting more of them to be successful will help close the achievement gap and create opportunities for everyone.
It is outstanding that Kansas City has become part of the president’s initiative.