There is a crisis in the American education system that has existed for generations: the issue of educational equity for all students, particularly students of color. NYC Leadership Academy is committed to making sure that every student has access to the best possible education. For the past year, Leadership Academy graduates involved in our Alumni Association have focused on the issue of educational equity especially for black and Latino boys. We recognize that there is not only an achievement gap; there are economic and opportunity gaps that need to be addressed.

We have taken the lead in bringing issues of equity for black and Latino boys to the forefront; particularly because many of our principals confront this challenge every day. Leadership Academy graduates have convened with officials in the NYC Department of Education, leaders of community-based organizations and peers to discuss the causes of disparity in education for boys of color.  We found that low expectations, zero-tolerance discipline, over-referral to special education programs, and school leadership that fails to address the issue are some of the main causes for these gaps.

We also recognize the power of parents and family members in improving outcomes for young men, so we partnered with the film “American Promise” to host a screening and discussion with the filmmakers.  American Promise follows the journey of two young black men at an elite New York City private school and the challenges they and their families faced in getting them through school and into college.

As we move into this academic year, we will continue to engage with our Alumni Association around this issue to work through the challenges and share emerging solutions. We have identified some of the problems and are looking forward to co-creating solutions. Together with the Partnership for New York City, we are co-hosting a roundtable in November with representatives of faith-based organizations to discuss collaborations that can be developed with schools to address the needs of black and Latino young men in our community. Our hope is to keep this critical issue top-of-mind and to prepare all of the principals we serve to implement solutions in their schools, thus improving life outcomes for young men of color.