November 18, 2011

20 Years of Educational Slaughter in Chicago Schools With No Outcry from Black Adults; Pittsburgh Learns to Close Achievement Gap; White Students More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol; International Men's Day At CVCA High School

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In Chicago, after 20 years of educational reforms, the racial gap between White and Black students is wider than 20 years ago.  Why are Blacks in Chicago silent while their children suffer the equivalent of  educational slaughter?!!!
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Chicago Public Schools fails
to close performance gap
Black students still losing academic
ground despite reforms, study finds
By Joel Hood
November 14, 2011
     Twenty years of reform efforts and programs targeting low-income families in Chicago Public Schools has only widened the performance gap between white and African-American students, a troubling trend at odds with what has occurred nationally.
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Students conduct a science experiment at Mount Vernon Elementary School. (Antonio Perez - Chicago Tribune)
     Across the city, and spanning three eras of CPS leadership, black elementary school students have lost ground to their white, Latino and Asian classmates in testing proficiency in math and reading, according to a recent analysis by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.     "Education is the civil rights issue that remains," said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University's Center for Urban Education. "The right to vote is one thing, but the right to go to a good school in your neighborhood is quite another."
     Even for schools so often weighed down by violence, poverty and dysfunction in their neighborhoods, news of this growing deficit was surprising to researchers considering the strides African-American students had made nationally over the same period.
     "It has certainly been shocking to us to discover there has been progress in some areas but without equity progress not shared equally among all the students," said Marisa de la Torre, a researcher on a recent report by the consortium that examined two decades of changes within CPS. "You don't really want to leave one group of students behind."
     Since the early 1990s, black fourth- and eighth-graders in the U.S. have improved their reading and math scores at a greater rate than whites on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, a key performance indicator across demographics. Educators and politicians hailed this as an important step toward closing an achievement gap that had confounded them for decades.
     This is an important issue in Chicago, where almost half of CPS students are black, the vast majority from low-income households. Yet for all the talk and attention paid to boosting African-American achievement in recent years, there has been no such breakthrough.
     "It's not the students' fault. It's our fault as adults," CPS' new chief, Jean-Claude Brizard, said recently in a speech to the Chicago Urban League. "In order to turn things around, we must make sure that the students and their achievement always comes first. Not adults. Not politics. Not administrators. Not contracts."
     Poor test scores are only part of the equation. Only 1 in 2 African-American students in Chicago graduates from high school, a number that has increased over the past decade but not at the rate of other racial and ethnic groups. School suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary cases also affect black students disproportionally.
     Drawing on his own experience as a Haitian immigrant in New York's public school system in the 1970s and then as a longtime educator in Brooklyn, Brizard has taken on the issue of black achievement personally.
     "I have a child who is half Latino and a child who is half African-American, so this is personal to my family and everything I stand for," Brizard said. "I've seen tremendous disparities between students, and it's why I stayed in this profession."
     When Mayor Richard Daley took control of the city's school system in 1995, it triggered a wave of reform efforts specifically aimed at improving student proficiency in the worst-performing schools. Then-schools chief Paul Vallas set minimum achievement standards on tests, held back students who failed to perform and placed schools with large numbers of low-performing students on probation.
     In later years, then-school CEO Arne Duncan - now the U.S. education secretary - launched reading initiatives in high-poverty neighborhoods on the South and West sides. He implemented a literacy screening test in the early grades to make sure students were on track. He closed dozens of underperforming schools and oversaw rebuilding efforts at others in predominantly poor black and Latino communities.
     Brizard said many of those school closings were misguided, often about saving money instead of improving the learning environment for disadvantaged students.
     "I think too much was about efficiency," Brizard said. "If you take a look, it's been the same neighborhoods who did not have quality (schools) and still don't have quality (schools)."
     If school closings destabilized certain neighborhoods, other efforts were ineffective - millions of dollars pumped into countless after-school initiatives and tutoring and mentoring programs geared toward African-American students, only to see math and reading scores languish and many students fall further behind.
In Pittsburgh, Progress Made in Closing Racial Academic Achievement Gap
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Pittsburgh schools see improvement in achievement gap
A+ Schools group issues progress report on city public education
By Eleanor Chute
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
     Pittsburgh Public Schools still has a significant achievement gap between black and white students, but the gap is closing at a faster pace and some schools have little or no gap at all.
Those are among the conclusions in the annual progress report to the community issued by A+ Schools, a public education advocacy organization.
     If the district continued at the pace of the past four years, it would take 40 years to close the math gap and 34 years to close the reading gap, A+ Schools said.
     However, enough progress was made in the last year that if that year's pace were continued, the gap would close in 24 years.
     "They shaved almost 16 years off closing the gap in one year. It's still too long, but it tells us we can do it," said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools.
     Sala Udin, board chairman of A+ Schools, said, "We are pleased to see the achievement gap beginning to be closed. We are pleased to see there are certain schools that are able to close and reverse the achievement gap."
     He said the schools that have successfully tackled the gap need to be studied for techniques that could help other schools.
     Five schools have a racial achievement gap of less than 10 percentage points in both reading and math: Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5, East Liberty; Fulton PreK-5 Highland Park; Liberty K-5, Shadyside; Pittsburgh School for Creative and Performing Arts 6-12, Downtown; and Obama 6-12, Shadyside.
     In addition, gaps of less than 10 percentage points can be found in math at Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5; Fort Pitt PreK-5, Garfield; Linden K-5, Point Breeze; Phillips K-5, South Side; Brookline K-8; Carmalt PreK-8, Overbrook; and Science and Technology Academy 6-12, Oakland.
     Two schools have gaps of more than 50 percentage points in both reading and math: Pittsburgh Oliver High School, and Pittsburgh Westinghouse, which was a 9-12 high school last year but became a new 6-12 school this year.
     In addition, there is a gap of more than 50 percent in reading at Pittsburgh Arlington PreK-5.
     The school-by-school gap was calculated by comparing the district's white achievement with the individual school's black achievement.
     Districtwide, the A+ Schools report showed the gap between the percentages of white and black students scoring proficient or advanced on state tests went from 34.9 percentage points in 2008 to 30.6 percentage points this year in reading and from 28.5 percentage points in 2008 to 27.2 percentage points in math.
     The districtwide gap was computed by comparing statewide white achievement with the district's black achievement. Ms. Harris said that method was used to provide a higher standard.
     The report includes information on all of the schools operated by Pittsburgh Public Schools as well as bricks-and-mortar charter schools based in the city.
     Some other points made in the report include:
  • More students are prepared for post-secondary education than a year ago. Fifty-nine percent of seniors had a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, one of the requirements for eligibility for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships. A year ago, the figure was 55 percent.
  • The graduation rate in 2009-10, the most recent year available, was 89.2 percent, an increase of 6.8 percentage points over the prior year.
  • A greater percentage of students in grades 9-12 is enrolled in one or more AP courses. The figure is 14 percent in the current report compared to 12 percent than in 2010.
     "With few exceptions, we see progress across the Pittsburgh Public Schools on all the indicators we examined," the report states.
White Students Abuse More Drugs and Alcohol Than Black Students
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Study: White kids more likely
to abuse drugs
Black and Asian adolescents are much less likely than their white peers to abuse or become dependent on drugs and alcohol, according to a Duke University-led study based on an unusually large sample from all 50 states.
By Jay Price
November 12, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. - Black and Asian adolescents are much less likely than their white peers to abuse or become dependent on drugs and alcohol, according to a Duke University-led study based on an unusually large sample from all 50 states.
     "There is certainly still a myth out there that black kids are more likely to have problems with drugs than white kids, and this documents as clearly as any study we're aware of that the rate of ... substance-related disorders among African American youths is significantly lower," said Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke's Department of Psychiatry, a senior author of the study.
     The findings, based on analysis of confidential federal surveys of 72,561 adolescents ages 12 to 17 from 2005 through 2008, were released Monday and appear in the November issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
     About 9 percent of the white teenagers in the study sample used substances in ways that indicated they had disorders, meaning abuse or dependency. That's nearly twice the percentage of blacks and nearly three times the rate for a group classified as Asian/Pacific Islander, which were mostly Asians. The prevalence of disorders was by far highest among Native Americans, at 15 percent.
     "Abuse" was defined as substance use that caused at least one problem such as legal or relationship issues. "Dependence" meant meeting several criteria from a list that included inability to cut down, giving up other activities and continued use despite problems.
     Across all racial and ethnic groups, 37 percent reported using drugs or alcohol in the past year and nearly 8 percent met the criteria for a substance-abuse disorder.
     Among kids who abused illegal drugs, marijuana was the most prevalent choice, followed by prescription opioids such as oxycodone, which have passed inhalants such as glue as a means of getting high.
     Nearly 26 percent of the kids using marijuana had problems with abuse or dependency on the drug.
     The study should give researchers a starting point for further study into topics such as the specific reasons that substance use and disorders are less common in some groups than in others, Blazer said.
     It's widely known among substance-abuse counselors and psychiatrists who work with Native Americans that problems vary greatly from one tribe to another, Blazer said. A shortcoming of the data is that it couldn't be broken down into smaller subsets such as tribes, or to separate the Asians and Pacific Islanders, to make it easier to dig deeper into the questions raised by the study, he said.
     In addition to three Duke researchers, the study also involved a scientist from the University of Pennsylvania and another from the Veterans Health Administration in Washington, D.C.
     Earlier studies, in some cases restricted to narrower slices of population or geography, had previously indicated that black youths were less likely to have drug problems than white adolescents, Blazer said. But the new study uses a particularly broad and representative sample, with large numbers surveyed in each racial and ethnic group.
     Given the strength of the data, the findings should give policymakers firm facts to use in making decisions about how to better tackle drug problems among kids, Blazer said.
     "It's very hard when you look at data like this to say we don't have a problem," he said. "Then it becomes sort of an imperative to do something."
International Men's Day
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"Take a Young Black Man to Worship Day" 
On Sunday, November 20, 2011, if your faith-based institution is not inviting, embracing and supporting young Black men, WHY NOT?  On this day, every Black man is a father. You have plenty time to organize a successful "Take a Young Black Man to Worship Day." Call Bruce at 773.285.9600 for an organizing kit or to register your faith-based organization. 
Take a young Black man to worship at your church, mosque, temple, synagogue or place of worship in your home town on November 20, 2011. 
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The Black Star Project's Million Father Movement is partnering with the most dynamic force in the Black community--the Black church.  Black churches, mosques, temples and synagogues across the country are working together on "Take a Black Male to Worship Day," Sunday, November 20, 2011.  Faith-based institutions throughout America are participating in this event.
We are especially asking fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, mentors, deacons, trustees, male choir members, significant male caregivers and family friends to join The Black Star Project in this movement.  Women and men of all ethnicities are also encouraged to "Take a Black Male to Worship Day." 
Please email or call Bruce Walker at 773.285.9600 to bring this effort to your city, to receive a complete organizing kit or for guidance concerning this event.   Participating faith-based institutions will be listed in our national directory.
If your faith institution is not participating, why not?

Please ask your faith leader to ensure that your faith-based institution participates in this event.  If you wish to participate in or lead the effort in your city or in your congregation on Sunday, November 20, 2011, (or your day of worship near this date), please call Bruce Walker at 773.285.9600 for an organizing kit and to register or email  

Those who want to educate their children rather than wait for others to educate their children should join The Black Star Project in this effort at 773.285.9600 or visit our educational programs at
21 Outstanding Black Males Summits
in 21 Cities Across America and One In
Tshwane, Botswana on Same Day!!!
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National Black male summit attracts African participation
By Taki S. Raton
November 12, 2011
     The Black Star Project in Chicago in partnership with the Open Society Foundation Campaign for Black Male Achievement in New York has joined to encourage the local sponsorship of Black Male Achievement Summits throughout the country on Saturday, November 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
     Twenty-Two cities have officially signed on to host Black men gatherings in their respective locations to include Albany, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Bernardino, Louisville, Atlanta, Baltimore, Newark, Baton Rouge, Omaha, Houston, Jackson (Miss), Detroit, and Washington, D.C.
Milwaukee's Black Male Achievement Summit will be held at the Milwaukee Brotherhood Fire
Fighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Rd from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Kingdom Institute for Black Men's Studies (KIBMS), the theme of this Milwaukee gathering will be "Institutionalizing Our Prideful Legacy and Historical Genius - The Rescue, Restoration and Cultivation of Culture, Dignity and Sustainability For Our Children, Families, Community and Future."
     Respective city summit organizers were notified on November 3 via email that Brother Baba Buntu and his assistant Mr. Pitsi Ragophala will be hosting a summit in Tshwane, Botswana. In his email greeting to brothers in America, Buntu says: "It is indeed encouraging to see the work being done by, for and with Afrikan/Black men around the globe. Increasingly, the virtues of responsibility, self-determination and real empowerment are being reclaimed and practically implemented. With this, our families, communities and nations can become what they were meant to be. I salute your work and look forward to engaging further with you about practical ways of collaboration and exchange."
     Kenneth Braswell of Fathers Incorporated says of the Tshwane participation that "Our work is a global work and if this isn't an indication of what God is doing, I don't know what is." Fathers Incorporated is the sponsorship of the Black Male Achievement Summit in Albany, New York.
     The stimulus to implement these planned national sessions were inspired by the work and vision of a retreat held this past September at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference was organized by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement Open Society Foundation.
One of the key features of this November 12 national summit will be a multi-city video conference role call in introduce and connect the upwards of 250 to 300 Black men to one another who are doing this work across the country.
     Each city has the option to select from a running series of topics provided by the organizers. Summit building themes include Globalization, Economics, Business Creation, Entrepreneurship, Health, Nutrition and Emotional Wellness, Education, Male-Female Relationships, Strengthening Families, Building Communities, Creating Institutions, Mentoring and Networking, Fatherhood and Father Absence, Spirituality and Faith, History and Culture, or Addressing the Issue of Youth Violence.
     "Mentoring Fatherhood - Fatherhood Absence and How it Effects Black Youth" for example will be the morning topic according to Anthony Whitherspoon of Investment Atlanta, Inc. who is hosting the gathering in Atlanta. The afternoon session themes will be devoted to "Strengthening Families and Building Communities" and "Education, Entrepreneurship and Black Youth."
     In Cincinnati, Ohio, the summit sponsoring body Omega Mentoring Associates as reported by organizer Anthony Jarrell selected the theme "Better to Build Boys than to Mend Men." Willie Hamilton in Omaha, Nebraska shares that his sponsoring group Black Men United is gathering under the theme "Mass Incarceration and Education" and The Hope Project in Phoenix, Arizona according to Marcus Fulton will target "The Black Man's Agenda - Building Black Businesses."
     In accordance with noted guidelines under their respective selective themes, each city summit will contribute to a national solution on the issues of Black men; create a local listing of Black male achievement, improvement and action organizations in that city; connect people in its city to local Black male achievement, improvement and action agencies; connect the work of Black male achievement, improvement and action organizations with connected Black male initiative in other cities across American.
     The Milwaukee November 12th day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration and breakfast. The Million Man March Pledge will open the summit at 9 a.m. The morning agenda will include an introduction, a sharing of the summit mission and vision statement, the meeting's outcome objectives, and an abbreviated showing of the nationally acclaimed DVD "Hidden Colors" followed by a critique and discussion relating to the summit theme "Institutionalizing Our Prideful Legacy and Historical Genius."
     In keeping with the Milwaukee summit theme reflecting "Prideful Legacy" and "Historical Genius," "Hidden Colors" is a documentary unfolding the real and untold history of people of color around the globe and efforts to disclose the reasons why the contributions of Africans have been left out of the pages of history.
     This Saturday's meeting at the Milwaukee Brotherhood Fire Fighters Hall will focus in the afternoon on correcting historical falsifications of African history and the Black experience towards to creation of an institution for our children and our community to rescue, restores, cultivate and perpetuate our history and culture for our children, families, community, and future.
     African American women and families in Milwaukee are invited to this now globally networked international forum for Black men. In the grand tradition of our ancestors, this community assembly will be designed around the concept of an "Mbongi." Mbongi is a term in the Bantu language meaning a "learning place."
     When African people come together to resolve community problems, that problem-solving meeting is an Mbongi. Mbongi is the place where one looks for and finds solutions to the problems affecting the people. It is one starting point for rebuilding community and empowering members to take action at the community level.
     For any additional information regarding this Saturday's Black Male Achievement Summit in Milwaukee, please contact Raton at:
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For more information, an organizing kit or to register to hold a Black Male Achievement Summit in your city, please call Bruce at 773.285.9600.
In Brooklyn, New York, Save the Day for Fathers Incorporated
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We need your support to continue our work.
The Black Star Project needs your support.  We are working hard to expand our programming and remain responsive to the needs of the communities we serve, and that takes resources.

Your contributions will support programs like the Saturday University and the Black Male Achievement Summits. 

If you value our efforts to reduce violence, rebuild families, and improve academic achievement, will you become a member today?

And you can win prizes!!!

For this membership drive, we will be awarding prizes each week to one raffle winner. For every $50 you donate before Sunday, November 20th at midnight, your name will be entered into a drawing. We will conduct the drawing each Monday and announce the winner and the next week's prize through an email on Tuesday.
The prize for the first week will be a football autographed by the whole Chicago Bears Team!