Letter from Chair
I am blessed for the opportunity to focus exclusively on the needs and the promise of young black males across the city of Oakland. My life's work is singularly aligned with my job. At the same time I am humbled, there are individuals and organizations who have worked at every level with the same intention of uplifting young brothers throughout this great city and our District. I will be reaching for them, as well to advance our goals in this effort. This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to continue to change the present trajectory for black males in Oakland.
Using the existing best practices that are getting positive results and building the public will, WE will lead the creation of a counter-narrative and work with OUSD and the community to take aligned actions to contribute at a scope and scale sufficient to make measurable progress for black males in the following areas:
- increase graduation rates
- increase attendance rates
- increase literacy rates
- decrease achievement gap
- decrease suspension rates
- decrease Incarceration rates
- improve academic performance of our middle and high school students
Making progress on these measures will require a multi-tiered, multi-sector, and cross-agency approach, where we not only respond to the call to action, but also make an unequivocal commitment to aligning our actions at a scope and scale necessary to change the present trajectory for black boys.
The challenges facing black boys is not just instructional in nature. Instead, their performance in this system is just one symptom. To use a health analogy, our approach will be similar to doing a full body work out, checking vitals (data), running tests and observing (being in schools), asking the patient what problems they are having (interviews with black males), working with teams of specialist (teachers, parents, agency leaders, peers, principals, etc.) to diagnose and develop interventions for him to be healthy, to learn, and to thrive. Our work must be to ensure there are no barriers present in our behaviors, practices, policies, and structures to prevent them from achieving the same goals and visions we hold for all our children.
The African-American Male Achievement Department has created the following pathways for people to get involved:
Technical Assistance Team (TAT) – “The Work Group”
- prepare for town hall / community meetings / inquiry and focus groups – create copies, agendas, research, reports, protocols, logistics...
- Communication – website, blogs, newsletters, announcements, print media, etc.
- Support AAMA Pilot Initiatives
- Professional Development Training Series Collaboration with Lincoln Child Care Center, to address the needs of AAM students
- Small Learning Community – Launching Pad for Excellence at OUSD high schools and middle schools – School Day Rites of Passage program for AAM’s
- Black History Celebration at Frick Middle School on February 26, 2011
Task Force (TF) – Students / Parents / Teachers / Principals / Classified Staff / Professors / CBO Leaders / Corporate / Elders / Clergy...
- Task Force members will be intellectual and strategic thought partners in the work.
- Review and Synthesize literature – Effective Practice & Research Review
- Task Force members will focus on K-2/3-5/6-8/9-12 Grade Levels with a concentration on the outcomes noted above.
- Review data and identify local and national best practices, research and frameworks.
- Attend community meetings from January through March.
Listening Campaign for AAM’s
- We will train, prepare, and support a group of AAM’s to lead interviews and conduct focus groups for K-5, 6-8, 9-12 and AAM’s ages 18 through 24 who moved through OUSD.
- Coordinate the listening campaign.
- Record / Video Tape / Document the stories of our AAM’s
- AAM Listening Campaign – Dec/Jan – Recruit / train 10 to 15 AAM’s ages 14 to 22 to lead/facilitate AAM Listening Campaign composed of K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade students and 18 to 24 year old group of AAM’s that graduated/transitioned out of OUSD.
- TAT meetings to be determined by group
- TF meetings to be determined by group
- Monthly Community Meetings – January 11, February 8, March 8, April 12 – additional meetings will be added as needed.
The secret to this work is that there is no secret. The act of how we pull together as a community to create a conspiracy of care to systematically address the needs of black boys is our charge. We must all engage in creating the conditions necessary for all children to be successful.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for your consideration and support.
African-American Male Achievement
Oakland Unified School District / Urban Strategies Council