VIEWPOINTS: Southwest Atlanta Parents Lift Every Voice for Black Boys

We cannot stop advocating for equitable educational services for Black boys in American schools.

SW Atlanta is lifting every voice for Black Boys! Parents in SW Atlanta are not pleased with the educational services their children are receiving at the historic Benjamin E. Mays H.S. Especially the impact it’s having with Black boys who are disproportionately not graduating or excelling academically.

“Our school is named after a notable Black man but the education Black boys receive here is less than sub par,” says a current male student.

It’s impressive to see so many Black boys saying that enough is enough. The students are taking advocacy up a notch by ensuring that not only parents and teachers are being held accountable, but so is the school board.

A long time SW Atlanta advocate and resident, Dawn Brockington Shaw caught wind of the students concerns. In efforts to support the Black male student leaders at the school, she and other parents are organizing community stakeholders and the school alumni to help set the school on a clear turnaround path for improved educational outcomes of the hundreds of Black students who attend the school.

“We demand the Atlanta Board of Education provide a turnaround principal leader for Benjamin E. Mays High School!”

School turnaround work must involve Black parents. SW Atlanta parents are now demanding that the ABOE rescind its offer to the proposed new principal at Benjamin E. Mays High School. I agree with the students and parents that a transformational, turnaround principal is necessary to improve school performance!

Here’s why:

o Approximately 14% of Mays students are considered college and career ready
o Approximately 86% of Mays students scored in the beginner (majority) and developing categories
o 2-star rating – Mays 2018 climate score (scale is 1-5 with 5 as the highest)
o Enrollment at Mays has significantly decreased since 2014
o Relationships in the building are dysfunctional
o Structure and processes are absent in the building
o No one denies that Benjamin E. Mays High School is in crisis

The community is saying that we cannot wait to help these young men. “Our concern is that we’ve seen this coming for quite sometime and it’s been a continual fight with the school district to effectively support the school.”

“I go to a historic school of excellence but don’t feel like it, it’s like remedial classes and lowered standards!”, says a young man with honors.  The majority of students at Mays are behind grade level. This is also a common trend that other predominantly Black high schools in Atlanta are also seeing. The Carver cluster for example has almost all of it’s schools taken over by charter networks due to the continual decline in academic progress.

Stakeholders believe that it is unacceptable and academically abusive to allow for Mays students to fall further behind as they wait for the proposed principal. We cannot have our boys experimented on or seen as the “problem”. Mays students deserve a better solution. Our Black boys deserve to be educated and not targeted in school turnaround plans.

I hear the parents and students concerns. I have also seen several new principals thrown into school turnaround work without being prepared. This is damaging to all parties involved. If we’re going to effectively do school turnaround work, we have to ensure the educational leaders are prepared, equipped and supported.

Mays H.S. parents are demanding the Atlanta Board of Education:
● Remove the proposed principal from consideration as the next principal of Mays.
● Use a model of assigning a proven turnaround principal. This model has proven success within APS to improve performance of a bottom tier school.
● Appoint a proven leader as principal. The proposed principal has no experience as a principal of an entire school.

Blacks boys at Mays H.S. and in SW Atlanta cannot continue to wait for school leaders and teachers to learn how to effectively turnaround schools. Our children deserve better now! Our Black boys have suffered long enough.

Source: EdLanta.org

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