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REPOST: Can the hundreds of education experts who flocked to Mississippi improve life for the state’s black boys?

REPOST: Can the hundreds of education experts who flocked to Mississippi improve life for the state’s black boys?

By Nick Chiles

JACKSON, Miss. – Like the billion locusts that emerge every 17 years to descend on the Northeast, sometimes the thing we call news has a remarkably simple basis: We cover it because it’s rare. Uncommon.

So when a critical mass of the nation’s foremost experts on educating black boys gathered in Jackson last month to hobnob, commiserate and impart their latest findings on how to get positive outcomes with this much-maligned population, it had the breathtaking impact of the locusts.

This had never before happened in Mississippi, a state with the highest rate of childhood poverty in the country, a legacy of racism and segregation and some of the nation’s lowest performing students.

Yet there they were, more than 600 of these experts, from 33 states and more than 200 school districts, sitting in classrooms and auditoriums at Jackson State University, intensely focused on workshops with titles like “Cultural Competence for Educators: Advancing development of boys and young men of color.”

They had come for the 8th annual conference of an organization called Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, known in the trade as Coseboc (pronounced like “close block” without the L’s). Over the last decade, Coseboc has become known as the nation’s leading repository for research and practices that work best in educating black boys, and the crowd at Jackson state was the largest Coseboc has drawn in the eight years of the conference.

Coseboc, led by executive director Ron Walker, cleverly published its own “standards,” which are essentially guidelines for schools and everybody else to use in determining whether educators are doing right by boys of color. Developed in conjunction with the Metro Center at New York University, the standards include parameters to assess how well schools are doing with black boys in standardized test preparation, availability of gifted programs/advanced placement classes, culturally relevant instruction, high school curriculum and its relevance to college enrollment requirements, along with such areas as attentiveness of school counselors and whether students are given a voice in the school.

With the standards, Coseboc has handed a powerful tool to those parents and communities who have long sensed their schools are not effectively attending to the needs of black boys.

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This article was posted on the HECHINGER REPORT. Read whole article here.

It also appeared on the Jackson Free Press

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