Black male graduation rate 'not just a school issue'
Disputed or not, a recent national study's conclusion that Pinellas County has the lowest black male graduation rate in the country - 21 percent - is sparking some deep conversations in the black community in St. Petersburg.
"The debate has shifted slightly, from what is the school system going to do, to do what is the community going to do," said Watson Haynes, co-chair of the influential Concerned Organizations for the Quality Education of Black Students. "We're in trouble and it's a community problem, not just a school problem."
Aghast at the findings, Haynes has put the issue on the agenda for the next COQEBS meeting, set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Enoch Davis Center in St. Petersburg.
If people didn't have a sense of urgency about the plight of black students before, they should now, he said.
"It ain't got a thing to do with black and white and everything to do with the economy and what we're producing," he said. "If folks can't get alarmed by it ... then we've given up and we've basically turned over our entire system, our entire future, over to the uneducated or undereducated."
Also on the agenda: Updates on the Bradley case mediation and a proposed settlement in the Crowley case. A report on the status of Gibbs High. And more discussion about whether the district should establish more fundamental schools in south Pinellas.