At George Jackson Academy, an all-minority private school in New York City’s East Village, boys in fourth through eighth grade learn civility, reports the New York Times. They also learn academic skills that qualify them for scholarships at elite private high schools.
Jackson, which is nonsectarian, was started by the principal of a Christian Brothers school who wondered why so many boys were vanishing from the college track so early. The school recruits boys — 51 percent black, 33 percent Latino and 16 percent Asian — with high IQs. Donations cover 92 percent of the $12,500 tuition.
In contrast to Charleston’s Brentwood Middle School (see previous post), where rudeness is assumed to be students’ authentic culture, Jackson students are taught to be courteous and helpful to each other.
A visitor is immediately struck by the fact that the boys, wearing ties as if they were corporate lawyers, greet visitors by looking them squarely in the eye and offering a handshake. Thereâ€™s none of the roughhousing common to middle school hallways.
Even the brightest boys may lose their motivation at schools where academic success brings on the bullies.
â€œGuidance counselors in the public schools are sending us these kids because they see they are bored, being warehoused and veering off into drugs or other things,â€ said (David) Arnold, the schoolâ€™s head.
I’ve talked to black parents seeking a school — charter or private — where it would be socially acceptable for their sons to excel academically. They were much less worried that their daughters would mocked for studying.
In Maryland, a task force looking at ways to raise the achievement of black male students proposes — among other ideas — creating single-sex classes for troubled students at predominantly black high schools.
“For historically disadvantaged students, single-sex classes have shown a consistently positive effect on academic outcomes,” the report says. “In classes where gender and racial differences are suppressed — rather than served — it’s almost always the African-American male who loses out.”
Many single-sex experiments have fizzled; it’s clear that boys-only or girls-only classes don’t make a difference unless there’s a significant difference in teaching. However, so many black boys are growing up fatherless that they may benefit from classes with male teachers.
The Maryland task force also suggested recruiting non-violent criminals to serve as mentors to black boys. It’s hard to imagine a stupider idea.