D.C. Public Schools is launching a new initiative that will focus on males of color, but some critics say the plan is unfair to black and Latino girls, and possibly illegal.
As part of its Empowering Males of Color initiative, DCPS plans to recruit 500 volunteer tutors for black and Latino males. It will also award grants to schools that devise their own programs to help those students. And, in its flashiest move, in the fall of 2016 it will open a new boys-only high school east of the Anacostia River.
After DCPS unveiled its plans with great fanfare a few weeks ago, Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) sent a letter to D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine asking for an opinion on whether the planned $20 million initiative would violate D.C. or federal anti-discrimination laws. And this week, the ACLU of the National Capital Area wrote to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) raising the same question.
Three other councilmembers are defending EMOC, citing statistics showing that black and Latino boys lag behind white students on many academic measures. Bowser and D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson have chimed in to defend the initiative.
Cheh doesn’t dispute that boys of color have it worse than white students. But she and the ACLU-NCA say that black and Latino girls face problems just as serious as their male counterparts.
Natalie Wexler is an education writer at Greater Greater Washington and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.