Task Force on Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys
In June 2003,
Maryland’s K-16 Leadership Council established a Blue Ribbon task force, the
Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African-American Males. The purpose was “to evaluate and report on the State’s efforts and progress to address the continuing school performance and educational achievement problems that so seriously imperil the future of many of our African-American males.” (excerpt from the Task Force Report). After years and hundreds of hours of research and discussion, the final report was issued in March 2007. Those recommendations were assembled and distributed. However, the implementation of those plans have failed to translate into the desired gains for black male students in Maryland.
Thirteen years later, scores on state assessments for black boys have remained at the bottom, while their suspension and expulsion rates are consistently high. These are not indicators of either educational equity or excellence for these children. The perpetuation and tolerance of low academic performance of our black boys deny them the same opportunities available to their well-educated peers. Denying them the education and skills necessary to prosper in this technology-based society demonstrates systemic racism in our public schools.
As stated in the recent letter from the Maryland Association Boards of Education, “…education provides the foundation to change perceptions and attitudes.” And it is those negative perceptions and attitudes that continue to plague our boys of color.
Our State Superintendent, Dr. Karen Salmon, has eloquently written, “We have a call to action to work together to tackle the inequities and systemic racial barriers that persist for our black students…...” The purpose of this task force is to answer that call.
The Maryland State Board of Education provides the following charge to the
Task Force on Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys (Task Force):
Consider the impact that discipline policies have on black boys in the classroom; determine best practices to minimize disciplinary problems and correct behavior without discouraging academic achievement.
Evaluate the availability and effectiveness of teacher preparation and professional development for culturally responsive teaching and cultural literacy as it pertains to black boys.
Identify opportunities to improve current curricula and instructional techniques, strategies, and methods to educate black boys.
Review current research and identify effective, research-based practices for educating boys of color inside and outside of Maryland; best practices can include but are not limited to,
single-sex classes, mentoring, rites of passage programs, male-specific pedagogy, and phonics-based reading instruction.
Evaluate current hiring methods and identify obstacles to the recruitment and retention of black male teachers; identify organizations that could form partnerships to support the Department’s efforts to recruit black male teachers.
Examine the reports of other MSDE task forces and commissions, including, but not limited to, the
Kirwan Commission, the
Commission on the School to Prison Pipeline, the
Task Force on Student Discipline Regulations, and the
Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African-American Males (March 2007); review those reports’ findings and determine to what degree the recommendations have been successfully implemented.
Based on consideration of the previous statements -- and the understanding that all students in Maryland should receive an education that is both
equitable and excellent – the Task Force is charged to make recommendations that should be adopted to improve the learning environment for every black male student in Maryland public schools.
Task Force recommendations to the State Board should be in the following areas:
Regulatory, policy, or guidance changes; curricular changes; adoption of instructional materials and resources; professional development; financial and human resources; and where appropriate, recommendations for legislative actions.
It is further charged that the
Task Force on Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys will report its findings, recommendations, and a suggested implementation plan (including assignment of lead offices and departments within MSDE, an implementation timeline, and responsibilities regarding progress monitoring) to the State Board on or about
February 23, 2021.
MEMBERSHIP AND DEADLINES:
Two members of the State Board will head the Task Force: Dr. Vermelle Greene, Chair and Dr. Joan Mele-McCarthy, Co-Chair. There will be at least six additional members. These individuals will be selected based upon their background in education, with preference given to those who have experience working with black boys.
Interested parties will submit their resumes and a brief statement describing the skills and experiences they would bring to the team. The Chair and Co-Chair will select team members. The final selection of the Task Force members will be on or before July 15, 2020, with the list presented to the Board at the July 28th meeting.