On Wednesday, October 30th, at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA, Dr. Carroll Blake, the Executive Director for the Achievement Gap for Boston Public Schools, will facilitate a discussion following the screening of American Promise. The documentary provides a rare look into the lives of two middle-class black families as they navigate the ups and downs of parenting and educating their sons. The film aims to empower boys of color, their parents and educators and to help close access and achievement gaps in our schools.
The following are excerpts from an interview that was conducted with Dr. Carroll Blake.
Given your experience as the Executive Director for the Achievement Gap for Boston Public Schools, what are you finding to be the biggest obstacles to academic success faced by boys of color in our current educational system?
The achievement gap is really an opportunity gap. I think we need to be providing a wide range of educational opportunities for boys of color from the arts to high levels of math and science that engage and excite them. However, it’s not only providing the opportunities, but ensuring they are culturally responsive to who the boys are and reflective on their experiences.
At a previous Film Series discussion, standardized testing was cited as a major reason students are failing. How does testing play a role in the academic achievement of boys of color?
Standardized testing has been and probably will always be part of the academic arena, but we must also look at more than just the test scores. We have to assess the whole child and all the things that they bring to the school and educational environment. Since these tests are not going away, we must begin to prepare our young men to succeed on these tests at an early age (preschool/kindergarten) and must provide continuous support throughout their school years.
What does the persistence of the achievement gap say about our approach to education?
That we have to work harder and smarter. We must become intentional with our efforts and make sure that all students have a solid foundation, starting at preschool and going through the school years. There must be equity and quality in education for all students no matter where they live or what their socioeconomic status.