Teachers, black males and cultural competence
Maybe if teachers were more culturally competent, fewer black males would be doing so poorly in school. So suggests a provocative draft report from the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, a group formed by the Legislature last year that is now putting together its first report by a Dec. 15 deadline.
“This issue is critical,” says the draft, which The Gradebook obtained from the Florida Attorney General’s Office. “Just as teachers are tested on their academic/cognitive skills before they enter the profession, they need to also be tested in the affective and psycho-social domain as well. … Cultural competency and its impact on student success are as pervasive as the air we breathe and just as essential to the survival of those who are ‘different’ in the context of majority classrooms.”
The 14-member council is taking a comprehensive look at the plight of black men and boys. But a key focus is education, where test scores, discipline rates and dropout stats should have set off much-bigger alarms a long time ago (see St. Petersburg Times story here.) Among other stats noted in the draft, only 15 percent of black males in grades 9 and 10 are reading at grade level.
A subcommittee that includes interim Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg and state Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, is working on the education portion of the report. Among its draft recommendations:
* Establish a university-based research institute with faculty whose work supports the efforts of the council.
* Commission a study on how well districts are educating and graduating black males.
* Establish a 5000 Role Models of Excellence program in every school in the state by 2012.
* Better track student disciplinary data and disaggregate it by race, gender, violation and punishment.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter