The University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems hosted a program Wednesday called “A Call to Conscience: Effective Policies and Practices in Educating African American Males.”
The keynote speaker was John Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education in Cambridge, Mass., who said research is clear that races are 99.6 percent the same genetically, so differences in educational performance must be caused by social policies and practices.
While black males are at the bottom of high school graduation rates in 36 of 50 states, according to Jackson, in some states, they perform as well, or better, than white males in states like Maine, Vermont and North Dakota.
"Where they’re so small in number that they can’t be relegated or isolated in under-resourced spaces," he said. "Likewise, we wanted to understand the outcomes for white males in under-resourced districts, so we went to Detroit, where the black male graduation rate was 21 percent and the white male graduation rate was 19 percent.”
Jackson said each child who is behind a grade level or more should have a "personal opportunity plan" with academic, social and health supports that will lead to success.
Academically, that may mean a tutor, or more time in class. Jackson encouraged Pittsburgh to use its many resources, including foundation support, to start instituting policy changes in the area with the most challenges.