By Emilie St. John
It’s summer time when the minds of most people are far away from the classroom.
But a group of Black educators meeting July 10-13 in Napa had education on their minds — specifically the education of Black boys.
The California Association of Black School Educators held its second annual institute focusing on what organizers called the national crisis surrounding the “de-education of Black boys.”
The organization was founded by Compton school board member Micah Ali, who has made it his mission to spotlight the inequity in trying to educate young Black males.
“We come together to talk about a topic that is very much important throughout urban America and that is what do we do in respect to the crisis of young Black boys,” Ali said. “As we dissect the de-education of young Black males in our education systems, we have an opportunity to not just look at it from the university and collegiate lens but we have an opportunity to lean into the practitioner space and look at various forms of delivery which will yield best practices as well as results.”
“What a blessing to be surrounded by educators with a common theme and a mission which is to educate and not incarcerate our young Black boys,” Ali added.
Erika Mitchell has been a member of the Atlanta Board of Education for the last five years, and attended the conference in hopes of adding to her arsenal of ways to educate the primarily Black students who make up the area she represents on the board.
“When I look at the schools in my area with the lowest performing schools being predominantly African-American, that is a problem,” Mitchell said. “Black students represent 74% of our district and it is a true state of the emergency as the belief is these students can’t be taught.
“As a board, its our responsibility to help solve these problems, not just throw it back on the district.”
Hank Moore represents a school district outside of Chicago.
“My wife is a teacher in Chicago Public Schools and I represent an area close by,” he said. “I don’t need to read a book to see what’s gong on. I have a PhD in common sense.”
He said he abides by the five “P’s” principle.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” he said. “We are always looking for unique ways to reach our Black students. The establishment isn’t set up for success and parents have bought in.”
D’artagnan Scorza, a former member of the Inglewood school board, offered remarks on the anti-deficit mindset that breeds implicit bias in schools.
“We have to stop blaming people for their circumstances,” Scorza said.
He currently serves as the executive director of Racial Equity for Los Angeles County and founded the Social Justice Learning Institute, which grew from a Black Male Youth Academy at Inglewood’s Morningside High School to a full class that comes with credit towards graduation.
“Our social justice class is taught in 27 high schools throughout Los Angeles County,” said Derek Steele, executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute.
The Social Justice Learning Institute is part of a broader coalition that makes up BLOOM alongside Becoming a Man and other organizations that are dedicated to changing the life trajectories of young Black men.
The summer conference was sponsored by BLOOM, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stride, Engie, Compton College, and a host of educational providers all aligned with the mission of educating young Black men.
Attendees took part in workshops and breakout sessions to discuss implicit bias training conducted by Bryant T. Marks, who is an associate professor of psychology at Morehouse College and the founder of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity.
Ali was pleased with the conference.
“We are having a phenomenal time with educators flying in from all over the country,” he said. “Half of the conference is represented by California with the other half from the rest of the United States.”
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.