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Regents unveil $50M plan to boost education for boys of color

Black and Hispanic boys in New York are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school as their white peers.

That’s just one troubling statistic the state’s education policymakers said they are looking to correct with a $50 million set of budget requests focused on young men of color. Board of Regents members presented those recommendations Tuesday, which would boost funding available to help schools reach out to needy families and for recruiting male teachers of color.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re still having this conversation,” said Regent Lester Young, “but it’s a conversation that we need to have.”

The proposals mirror President Obama’s national effort to focus resources on young men and New York City’s own Young Men’s Initiative. Regents want the state to set aside $12.5 million for family and community engagement, specifically for schools that focused on serving boys and young men of color. These funds could help single mothers raising sons, improve communication between parents and schools, or be used to bring attention to examples of schools successfully involving parents.

Another $5 million would fund a program to provide tuition, fees, stipends and programs to prospective young teachers of color called the Teacher Opportunity Corps.

New York City recently announced a plan to attract 1,000 more black, Hispanic, and Asian teachers of its own. About 43 percent of the city’s students are black, Hispanic or Asian boys, while just 8 percent of city teachers are men of color, while research has found a number of social and academic benefits to students of color being taught by teachers who share their backgrounds.

The Regents proposed another $10 million be set aside for training designed to help teachers work young men of color, and $6.5 million be directed to specific career and technical education programs. The report mentions New York City’s P-TECH, a high school in Brooklyn that offers students the chance to earn an associate’s degree, as a model. (Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already poured millions into opening more P-TECH schools statewide.)

Regents said they will advocate for these recommendations in upcoming state budget process. Some of the recommendations are part of the Board’s broader $2.4 billion request for education funds, which was voted on Tuesday.

Only one Regent suggested the report was missing something. A clear way to improve outcomes for students of color is to make sure they attend integrated schools, Regent Kathleen Cashin said — something the proposals did not address.

“We’re getting more segregated schools and we’re forgetting integration,” she said.

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