On March 15, 2016 the Dayton public schools board of education voted unanimously to fund the Office of Black Male Achievement with a $400,000 initial investment. DPS becomes the third district nationally and the first in the state of Ohio to be bold enough to invest in this most neglected subgroup of students. Black males in DPS represent the largest total subgroup and unfortunately they also have the biggest achievement gap.
The effort applied to make this initiative a reality has lasted a few years and included trips to Oakland, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit the first and second respective offices of African-American and Black Male achievement. DPS Superintendent Lori Ward and her cabinet have achieved a great feat. Supported by school board member Ron Lee and City Commissioner Jeffrey Mimms Jr the superintendent was able to make a case to a reluctantly school board and city supporters.
The political will and tipping point came from a local, but state wide, parent organizing organization, Racial Justice NOW! RJN has been consistent on pushing the envelope on this issue. RJN hosts monthly parent meetings and regularly holds forums around the school to prison pipeline. They have led the way in highlighting the disparities of black children in suspensions and also in achievement gaps. Their regular presences at each and every school board meeting has made them a staple good, representing the black community to the school district.
To make their case, RJN used the Schott Foundation for Public Education “Black Boys Report”, and also contacted Oakland Unified School District which was the very first school district in the nation to make this investment five years ago. RJN arranged conference calls with Chris Chatmon, Executive Director of the Office of African American Male Achievement in Oakland Unified with Superintendent, Lori Ward. They arranged conference calls with Ron Walker from the Coalition of Schools Educating Boy’s of Color and Shawn Dove, from Campaign for Black Male Achievement based in NYC. RJNs data driven information and solutions based approach brought forth well informed experts in this field. Additionally, RJN highlighted the the deplorable data from the Ohio Department of Education looking specifically at graduation rates, achievement gaps, suspensions, and expulsions.
Dayton’s office will use a combination of strategies from Oakland and Minneapolis offices of Black male achievement.