BY ZACH ESSIG, JUNIOR EDITOR
On Wednesday, January 21st, DCPS and Mayor Bowser unveiled a new DCPS initiative targeting black and latino male students across DC. This initiative, called Empowering Males of Color (EMOC) , will include a wide range of support programs for young black and latino males living in DC.
This initiative came about to address the significant achievement gaps, with regard to male students of color, and the lack of support DCPS has given them. Robert Simmons, the DCPS Chief of Innovation and Research, said, “The boys are not the problem. We [DCPS] are not doing enough to empower them, support and engage them.”
The initiative is part of Mayor Bowser’s effort to give male students of color more access and resources towards success. Empowering Males of Color also ties in with the White House’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ program. ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is a nationwide measure that works to help male students of color succeed in the classroom and workforce.
The initiative has three primary components: engage, improve, innovate. DCPS will engage with the community to address solutions targeting long-term success for male students of color. DCPS will improve and expand strategies that relate to equity. Lastly, DCPS will innovate new approaches to targeting male students of colors success. A significant component of the innovative element of the plan is the proposal for an all-male high school in Southeast DC, specifically for black and latino students.
Through Empowering Males of Color, DCPS strives to improve early literacy rates, increase seat attendance, increase enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, improve graduation rates, increase student satisfaction, increase college acceptance and persistence, and prepare students for high-wage, high-growth careers.
The plan will dedicate $20 million to programs supporting male students of color. The funding is set to come from both public and private donors and investments. DCPS also intends to work with the DC Public Education Fund to raise additional capital.
The reveal of the program prompted a wide range of response. Some congratulated DCPS on it. Carlos Hood, senior, stated that he believes, “the initiative is a great one, it would be like having a Morehouse College in the nation’s capital — A place where young men of color can see positive role models attend higher education.” On the other hand, some were more disappointed with the proposed plan, citing it’s gender separation. Lina Klose, junior, commented, “I don’t think the way to solve a problem about paying attention is to divide children up by gender. I think that there are plenty of black and latino girls that could use an all female school. Having a mentor can really help a student stay focused and work for something, but I just don’t agree with the gender division.”
GRAPHIC BY SARAH TORRESEN