THE BLOG
01/27/2015 09:20 am ET Updated Mar 29, 2015

DC Plans to Invest $20 Million in Minority Male Students

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced a plan to invest $20 million to support programs for Washington, D.C.'s men of color. This includes opening an all-boys college preparatory high school in 2017 under the "Empowering Males of Color" initiative.

The funding for the support programs will come from private and public sources. The D.C. Public Education Fund is working to raise money to support these initiatives outside the operating budget.

Henderson's decision to invest seriously in the specific needs of minority boys has everything to do with "mathematics," she says.

Black and Latino boys make up 43 percent of the students enrolled in D.C.'s public schools. The graduation rates, reading and math scores and attendance of minority boys are all lagging in the District. By fourth grade, nearly half of the city's black and Latino male students are reading below grade level.

In the District, 48 percent of black male students and 57 percent of Hispanic male students graduate in four years, compared with 66 percent of their classmates. Only about a third of black male students are proficient in reading and math, compared with nearly 66 percent of students who are not black or Latino males, according to DC CAS scores.

The push is a citywide effort led by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser who is working to improve equity and increase opportunities for black and Latino males. The efforts also align with President Obama's work to help keep male minority students in school and out of prison.

I'm ecstatic to see the effort and money dedicated to increasing the success of minority male students in the District. These young men deserve the investment that Washington, D.C., is making in them, and I predict we will see big improvements in graduation rates and reading/math scores moving forward.