In an article in the Washington Post, a recent report issued by a Maryland statewide task force paints a dim picture of how African American males are performing in its public school and university systems.
The report cites troubling statistics:
Of the 32,000 African American boys in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades eligible to take an Advanced Placement exam in 2005, the report says, only 1,229 did so. The report also notes that in 2004-05, six of every 10 suspensions involved a black student.
The recommendations the report offers are strengthening mentor programs, encouraging more black men to be teachers and providing more academic support for those who need it.
This issue was studied ten years ago by a similar task group then chaired Del. Elijah E. Cummings (D), who is black, that offered recommendations for change, but little progress has been made since then.
The report notes:
"We acknowledge that at every level, there's been a fundamental failure on behalf of our African-American male students and a persistent bias against them. These recommendations are intended to rectify both."
Two controversial recommendations from the report are to place troubled students at black-majority high schools into single-sex classes and to encourage nonviolent offenders to be mentors to students.
The report says:
"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."
On the recommendation to encourage ex-offenders convicted of nonviolent felonies to serve as mentors, the report says: "Maybe it's counterintuitive to put children and ex-offenders together. And maybe it's exactly what each one needs. Life's lessons aren't always learned from those who lived it flawlessly."
A plan is expected to be outlined this June for implementing the recommendations.
One task member says, "I don't want this to be another report that winds up on the shelf."