Our community shares the responsibility of making Jacksonville a city where students receive an excellent education and acquire the knowledge and skills to become productive, contributing citizens. In an effort to bring the community together to explore issues and challenges facing our city, Florida State College at Jacksonville in partnership with the Rashean Mathis Foundation, hosted an event last week for its Bridging the Divide initiative. Dr. Kimberly Allen, Director of Data and Research for Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF), was invited to summarize her research about the well-being of African-American males in Jacksonville.
For several years, Dr. Allen has worked with the Urban Education Symposium (UES) to determine how, in light of rising high school graduation rates, life has changed for our young Black males over the past eight to nine years. During her presentation, Dr. Allen discussed the disheartening findings and urged awareness. Among them:
Black males are still disproportionately raised in single-parent households among families that were some of the lowest wage earners.
They are less likely to report suicidal thoughts as white males, but just as likely to have attempted suicide.
Black males are overrepresented in the criminal justice system without equitable use of restorative justice and suspended from school at 4 times the rate of white male students.
Black male students are less likely to be reading on grade level than any other racial/ethnic group in all tested grade levels on every single version of the standardized test—that’s 20 years of the same thing.
In 2017, only 23% of our Black males in the 10th grade earned a passing score on the English language arts portion of the state standardized test—meaning 1,271 of our Black males who took the test last year are in danger of not graduating next spring.
Dr. Allen encouraged attendees to take ownership of this data and come together as a community to see it as their problem and their opportunity to create change.These numbers sparked incredible conversations among the participants who largely committed to improving the education and outcomes for our students, and particularly our black males.
Learn more about Bridging the Divide and register for an upcoming event to join the conversation! For further information about information and data on Black males in Duval County, contact Dr. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.