JCPS board to hear update on proposed 'Males of Color' Academy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS board to hear update on proposed 'Males of Color' Academy

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education will hear a "detailed explanation" next week on the steps the district has taken since November on the plan to create a district-wide magnet school geared toward black male students.

During a 4 p.m. work session scheduled before Tuesday's regular scheduled school board meeting, district officials will update the board on the work and next steps of the proposed 'Males of Color Academy,' which is being referred to as the W.E.B. DuBois Academy, named after the author, sociologist and civil rights activist.

According to an agenda, the objective of the work session is to "inform, engage and have discourse regarding the potential approval of a Males of Color program in JCPS."

JCPS chief equity officer John Marshall will provide board members on an update on the need to improve the outcomes for males of color. In addition, Rosz Adkins, the project manager hired by the district, will "further the discussion, inform the community and illuminate a plan for the design of the program."

A two-page brochure has been uploaded on the school board agenda website, but few details -- including where the DuBois Academy would be housed -- have been shared. 

However, the board has not yet approved a final plan. Officials have said they would like to start with 150 sixth grade boys.

Last August, Marshall provided the board and the public with a first look of what he'd like to develop in the district.

In November, the board was given a document from Superintendent Donna Hargens that gave a timeline stating that she expects the final plan to "be brought forward to the board no later than September 2017 for the next steps of planning to be able to implement this program/school by the 2018-2019 school year."

DuBois is being modeled after Lexington's Carter G. Woodson Academy and will feature an Afrocentric curriculum that would educate students through the lens of African American history and culture, he said.

"We can no longer shy away from the fact that the majority of students in JCPS look like this," Marshall said referring to the fact that minorities make up more than half of children born in the United States. "As a city, as a country, we have to discuss race."

According to district statistics, about 37 percent of JCPS students are black, while 46 percent are white.

JCPS' low-income and minority students continue to lag behind their peers across multiple content areas and grade levels. For example, in sixth grade, there is a 27-point difference between white students who are reading on grade level compared to their black counterparts.

The Woodson Academy is patterned after the "Black Males Working" program, a private educational enrichment program for young black males that was launched Akins and her husband, C.B. Akins, at their church, Lexington's First Baptist Church Bracktown in 2005.

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Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter. 

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