Boston Gathering of Leaders | City of Ideas

Posted 01/15/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Despite recent progress, the BPS 4-year dropout rate for the 2011 cohort lags at 58% for males vs. 71% for females; 62% for African-American and 57% for Hispanic vs. 77% for White students. Disproportionate representation of male students of color in leading indicators during Grades 4-10 such as attendance, family engagement, test scores, enrollment in SpEd, Gifted & Talented and AP classes inevitably lead to their being lost in the chasm of the achievement gap. High school graduation is the leading indicator/predictor for a stable and constructive future including rates of incarceration, morbidity, and lifetime earnings.

Research indicates that boys and young men of color too often disengage from schooling during the critical mid-years of Grades 4-10.  Factors include insensitive curriculum, ineffective pedagogy, inadequate student:teacher relationships, and a lack of attending to their social-emotional needs that result from lifelong exposure to chronic stressors such as poverty, violence, loss, abuse, hunger, inadequate housing and health care.  In turn, family members lack knowledge and efficacy to set and support appropriate expectations for their sons and their sons' schools, and to monitor and advocate throughout their son's educational experience.  Young men of color lack a vision for their future, and sufficient adult mentors to help map and support their path to that future.

Against this bleak landscape, a counter narrative exists - that of schools intentionally designed for and demonstrating success in educating boys and young men of color.  Their promising practices can be used to transform schools to achieve success for Boston boys and young men of color.

This collaboration enables Boston to draw on national research and practice while engaging educators, families, community allies and Black and Latino boys together in fashioning local solutions to this persistent tragedy.

Project Proposed:
Together we propose to work with schools serving students in Grades 4-10 living in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.  We will work with school leaders, family/community leaders, and young male student leaders of color to:
1. Convene 60 local leaders - 20 school leaders, 20 family/community leaders, and 20 youth leaders - in a 1 1/2 day Gathering (modeled on COSEBOC's annual national conference - Gathering of Leaders) in November 2013.  Presentations will include:
-Call to Action by young men who express commitment to their own education and future while acknowledging the challenges they must overcome
-overview of local and national research on stages of male and youth development and social-emotional learning
-introduction to COSEBOC's Standards and Promising Practices for Schools Educating Boys of Color and its use in school transformation
-presentation on local and national promising practices from schools demonstrating success in educating boys and young men of color
-participants break into three cohort groups for facilitated discussion on ideas for action, available resources, and their own plans to engage their peers in further planning
-cohorts report back to each other and receive a mandate for going forth to engage their peers.

2. Support these 60 community leaders during Winter 2013-14 to each reach out to another 5+ colleagues in similar roles, share what they learned, exchange and develop further ideas for action.

3. Re-convene these now 300 engaged community leaders for a Summit in March/April 2014 to report back, consolidate and prioritize ideas, organize and launch a coordinated Action Plan to support the academic, social and emotional success of Boston male students of color.

Role of Collaboration:
COSEBOC will provide the Project Manager and Youth Engagement Facilitator.  It will access its roster of national researchers and practitioners including Dr. Ivory Toldson of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, David Miller of Raising Him Alone, and Dr. Pedro Noguera and Dr. Eddie Fergus of NYU's Metro Center.  It will provide access to its database of promising practices from schools educating boys of color, drawn from its nine COSEBOC Award winners (including Boston's Fenway Academy) and other member schools.

The Boston Public Schools Office of the Achievement Gap will identify and recruit schools and young men to participate in this program and provide on-going support and resources to school leadership teams.

The Boston Public Schools Office of Family and Student Engagement will support the development of strategies to engage family members and community allies.  They will support the mobilization of family and student participation.

In addition we are in dialogue with Simmons College (Dr. Theresa Perry) and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (Darnell Williams). We aim to engage Simmon's Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program to participate and incorporate research and promising practices into its courses that train future Boston school leaders, and to provide facilities for the initial Gathering and the re-convening of the final Summit.  We aim for ULEM to help us engage members of the business community to participate as community allies.

Our intent is to first galvanize a vanguard group of school, parent, community and youth leaders with interest and focus on the educational status of boys and young men of color in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.  We will inspire, connect, support and strengthen them to build a Boston movement for change and facilitate development of an Action Plan.

This project will complement the Boston Public Schools' current 3-year Black and Latino Male Initiative focused on educational success for black and brown boys.  The Boston Gathering of Leaders will build school, family/community and youth leaders' understanding of the crisis in education for boys and young men of color in Boston, build community understanding and support for BPS initiatives to address this issue, and launch actions in schools, families, and communities.  Projected outcomes include:
-Parents and community members who are better informed and mobilized to participate in BPS's Black and Latino Male Initiative
-Youth (male) leaders who mobilize their peers to address their own role in their education and preparing for their future
-School leaders prepared to implement promising practices for educating boys and young men of color in their schools
-Boston cluster of COSEBOC members - BPS education leaders, researchers and community members - engaged year round in a local chapter and in national online community of members benefiting from webinars led by national experts, posting of research and promising practices, a blog, and facilitated discussion of issues and ideas raised in these forum.

Other information:
The Boston Gathering of Leaders project builds on:
-BPS' Black and Latino Male Initiative - a 3-year, 3-phase effort encompassing Research, Ethnography-Case Studies and Implementation
-COSEBOC's Standards and Promising Practices for Schools Educating Boys of Color a research-based document that outlines seven core areas for effective schools and enables school leaders to assess strengths and gaps in their own school and to analyze the leadership skills and beliefs that are necessary to implement them.  Core areas include: Assessment, Parent/Family/Community Partnership, Curriculum and Instruction, -COSEBOC annual Gathering of Leaders, an annual convening of education researchers, policy-makers and practitioners dedicated to implementation of promising practices in educating boys and young men of color.  BPS Achievement Gap Director Dr. Carroll Blake attended the last two Gatherings, as did several Boston school leaders.  They believe that a local Gathering would enable a core group of school leaders to share a common experience and therefore be better prepared to plan implementation.
-COSEBOC School Awards that identify, celebrate, reward, and promote the promising practices of schools successfully educating boys of color.  Four schools were honored in 2012, including Boston's Fenway Academy; another five will be honored in Spring 2013.

Primary Contact:
Ron Walker is the founding Executive Director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) whose mission is to connect, inspire, support and strengthen school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color.

COSEBOC is the only national education organization of practitioners solely focused on promoting the educational success of boys and young men of color. COSEBOC works with all schools – preK-12th grade; public, charter and private; coed and single gender. COSEBOC connects research, policy and practice and is a learning community for school leaders.

COSEBOC's growing menu of programs and services are rooted in our Standards and Promising Practices for Educating Boys and Young Men of Color, a framework for what a school should offer and do if it intends for its male students of color to succeed.  Programs and services include:
- online community of members who benefit from posted resources on best practices, current research, webinars, our blog, and a facilitated online discussion
- annual Gathering of Leaders, our 2012 Gathering was a convening of 400 educators, researchers and policymakers, and the young men of color they aim to educate
- Mississippi Leadership Academy providing year-long professional development for 25 early learning and elementary school leaders
- Sankofa Passages program, a peer mentoring program for 220 high risk middle and high school students enrolled in Philadelphia Alternative Public Schools
- COSEBOC School Award program that identifies, celebrates, rewards and promotes K-12 schools nationwide that demonstrate success in educating boys and young men of color.

Partner 1:
Ron Walker is one of the founding members of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color as well as its founding Executive Director. He is the former Associate Director of ATLAS Communities - a comprehensive school reform organization working with over 100 schools across the country in urban, suburban, and rural school districts - and shared responsibility with the Director for leadership and management of ATLAS activities and staff. In that role he oversaw delivery of services to selected districts and worked in tandem with the Director in outreach, marketing, and related fund raising and development efforts. He also identified and negotiated strategic alliances that strengthened ATLAS’ organizational capacity and had primary responsibility for the development and management of the annual Principals Institute and related leadership activities.

Previously, Ron was a Principal in the Cambridge (MA) Public Schools for 9 years, a Vice-Principal in the Belmont (MA) Public Schools for 4 years and a middle school teacher in the Philadelphia Public Schools for 10 years.

Ron was the recipient of the Black Educators Award for Professional Service in Education (1995), the Liberating Vision Award presented by the National Council of Negro Women (1997), and a Mott Foundation grant to reconnect African American communities and their schools in Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore.  He was also the recipient of a Harvard University Gates Fellowship for senior level education change coaches and served as a coach with the Change Leadership Group and Boston College's Lynch Leadership Program.  He has also consulted to schools and districts on equity and culturally responsive school management. 

Recently, Ron was nominated by Ebony magazine and the Open Society Foundation for their Manifest Award, designated for individuals making a positive difference in the education of African American male students.  He serves on numerous boards that address community based and education issues.

Ron brings 45 years of educational experience, passion for the affirmative development of all students - especially male students of color, along with his inspirational vision and calm judgment to his leadership of COSEBOC.

Partner 2:
Dr. Carroll Blake is the Executive Director of the BPS Office of the Achievement Gap which works across schools and departments in the district to support and direct initiatives to eliminate the achievement gap. Previously he was Principal of the Henry Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury.  Dr. Blake has had a variety of professional experiences, which have contributed to shaping his vision of education. For seven years he was the Assistant Principal of Wellesley Middle School, Wellesley MA. Prior to Wellesley, Dr. Blake was the METCO Director for 17 years for the Lincoln Public Schools. 

In addition, Dr. Blake served as the Executive Director of Empowering Multicultural Initiatives (EMI), an anti-racism staff development organization designed to train teachers in anti-racism education. He was one of the EMI founders, and also served as an EMI instructor.

Dr. Blake has a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Northeastern University, a Master’s in Business Administration from Atlanta University, and an Ed.D. in Urban School Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Boston. His dissertation was entitled ” Transforming Teachers’ Thinking In Suburban Schools Through Anti-Racism Education”.Dr. Blake has also been a member of the Harvard Principals Center Advisory Board, a presenter at the Harvard Urban School Summer Leadership Institute, as well as a guest lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He has developed anti racism courses at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and at a variety of public schools in the Boston area.

Partner 3:
Michelle P. Brooks is the Assistant Superintendent, Office of Family & Student Engagement, Boston Public Schools. The Office of Family & Student Engagement believes that engaging families is the job of every person in the entire system. The role of the Office is to build the capacity of educators to engage families in a meaningful and respectful way and to build the capacity of parents as partners, to empower parents for their role in their children's education.
For every instructional strategy there is a family engagement strategy to accompany it, i.e. when teacher teaches phonemic awareness there is a strategy for parents to use at home.

Ms. Brooks defines herself as a practioner who seeks to implement and ‘breathe life’ into research.  Prior to assuming her current position in 2008, Michelle P. Brooks was the Executive Director of the Boston Parent Organizing Network, which focused on improving education outcomes for marginalized communities.  She was also the Principal Consultant for Transformative Solutions through which she facilitated strategic and organizational development planning
for and professional development in family and community engagement.  She served as a member of the Boston School Committee from 2005-2008. 

Ms. Brooks has a B.A. in Educational Psychology from Cambridge College and a M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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