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Duval Schools Joins National Push To Boost Minority Male Achievement

Duval County Public Schools

Duval County is one of 60 urban school districts across the nation to join the first national pledge to boost academic success among young black and Hispanic men.

The district has joined the White House-backed “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, announced by the Council of Great City Schools Tuesday.  

President Barack Obama has pledged $200 million toward the effort and across the nation, organizations from the NBA to companies in Silicon Valley are stepping up to donate, man-power and money--from tens of thousands of mentors to millions of dollars in school renovations.

Duval School Board member Paula Wright, elected to serve on the Council of Great City Schools Executive Committee, said she is elated to be a part of the initiative.

“It’s important that our young people understand that not only do we love them, support them,” she said. “I see my Brother’s Keeper being very impactful in Duval County because this is an opportunity for us to push our young people forward and in particular focus on our young men.”

The district has launched several initiatives to narrow the racial achievement gap, including the Quality Education for All initiative, or QEA, which focuses on improving student achievement in the district’s lowest performing schools.

This fall, Duval Schools is also set to launch this fall is the Young Men’s Leadership Academy and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Eugene J. Butler Middle School. The two academies will feature single-gender core classes with a focus on leadership and technology.

“I will tell that over the past two years, we have been certainly have become very aggressive in this area and we are seeing the results,” he said.

The district’s current graduation rate for African-Americans is about 66 percent, up about 3 percentage points from two years ago, and slightly above the state average. That places the district in third place for African-American graduation among the state’s seven biggest districts, according Vitti .

The graduation rate for Hispanic students for this year is 72 percent and the rate for white students is 77 percent.  

“I think we’re moving in the right direction with all the work that we’ve done on early college, with all the work that we’ve done regarding Butler and most importantly, with QEA and finding the best principals and teachers to go into schools that have the heaviest concentration of African-American students,” he said.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.