CBC, community groups partner to host forum on Black male academic success

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On Friday members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the K.L.E.O. Family Life Center and the Open Society Institute Campaign for Black Male Achievement will host a special forum addressing Black males’ academic experience.

On Friday members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the K.L.E.O. Family Life Center and the Open Society Institute Campaign for Black Male Achievement will host a special forum addressing Black males’ academic experience. Police and school leaders, as well as elected officials, are expected to attend. "Black students are nearly 500 percent more likely to pass through a metal detector when entering school," Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, indicated in her 2008 report, "Breaking Barriers: Plotting the Path to Academic Success for School-age African American Males." "Yet Black males are significantly more likely to feel unsafe at school. Further, Black males who report feeling safe at school have significantly higher levels of academic functioning." The forum is the fourth one in a series of discussions on Black male achievement held around the country. Open Society Institute is funding the forums, which have also been held in Washington, D.C.; Clayton County, Georgia; and Memphis. Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman, several aldermen, Cong. Danny Davis, D-7th, and Cong. Bobby Rush, D-1st, are confirmed to attend the forum, which will be held at the K.L.E.O. Family Life Center, 119 E. Garfield Blvd. The day begins with an 8:30 a.m. breakfast, followed by a noon working lunch. “By partnering with CBCF we hope to bring attention to the solutions that we will be discussing,” said K.L.E.O. Center Executive Director Torrey Barrett.  “It’s time out for rallies and marches without producing a solution.  We have a solution and we need political support and funding to implement (it).” The CBCF points to frequent exposure to crime and other factors as barriers to Black students’–especially males–classroom success. "We cannot provide realistic solutions to improve academic success among black males, without first addressing the deplorable acts of violence plaguing youth in cities like Chicago," said Dr. Elsie Scott, President and CEO of the CBCF. Barrett goes further, saying community organizations like K.L.E.O. and groups like the Congressional Black Caucus and its foundation are often a last hope for disenfranchised youth. “The young Black males are our future,” Barrett told the Defender. Society is not designed to help them.  We have prisons that are being projected to be built in 2014 and beyond based on high school drop out rate for young black men.  Society has already given up on them and they are expected to fail.  Organizations like ours want (them) to understand that they dictate their future, not society.  We will provide them with the support, education and job opportunity needed for them to be a productive part of society.” Admission to Friday’s forum is free of charge, but space is limited, organizers said.

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