This has been a very busy and informative week.
As I work toward building a plan at the conclusion of the first 100 days in this office, I have continued to engage black male students in MPS schools to hear their perspective. This step is critical and cannot be overstated. I want to ensure that their voice is represented in the development of whatever plan is put forth for approval and review.
The young men had tons of valuable information to share. In order for us to hear the uncut truth, I asked at each of the schools we attended if they wanted school staff to be present during our conversation. At each site, they asked for privacy and anonymity so they could speak their minds without fear of retribution. This step was the start of creating a safe space where the young men could be free to express themselves fully and without penalty. Providing them with the power of making a decision from the start in this process appeared to gain their trust and allowed for the real, honest and heartfelt conversations.
There were many statements that nearly brought tears to my eyes when hearing them. One student, in a few words, summed up the attitude and feedback I heard time and again by saying, "No matter where we go, we are looked at as monsters."
When I asked a follow up question seeking additional comments, the stories just came pouring out of how they were perceived as monsters in many situations where they were just being kids. Tellingly, another student stated, "Because they think I'm going to do something, it makes me want to when people expect it."
We must have high expectations for all of our students. No matter how low or high we set expectations, these young men will reach them.
The work continues.
|Meeting with young men at South High. Sept 8|
|Meeting with MPS family & community liaisons to talk about the Office of Black Male Student Achievement. Sept. 9|
|Meeting with local businesses, asking them to open their doors to black males and help them to accomplish their dreams. Sept. 10|