CPP in the News: Spotlight on “Opportunity Gaps for Boys and Young Men of Color”

Last week, Teachers College professor and CPP Co-Director, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, spoke at a meeting of the New York Board of Regents and advocated for New York state to allocate funding to “coordinate a statewide version of President Obama’s 2014 My Brother’s Keeper program,” making New York the first state in the nation to answer the President’s call to action.

Obama’s initiative is focused on six milestones in service of addressing “persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential”:

    • Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn
      All children should have a healthy start and enter school ready – cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally.
    • Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade
      All children should be reading at grade level by age 8 – the age at which reading to learn becomes essential.
    • Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career
      All youth should receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.
    • Completing Postsecondary Education or Training
      Every American should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed for the quality jobs of today and tomorrow.
    • Successfully Entering the Workforce
      Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.
    • Keeping Kids on Track and Giving Them Second Chances
      All youth and young adults should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training, and treatment they need for a second chance.

In her remarks to the Regents, Prof. Sealey-Ruiz reflected on her own teaching to underscore the importance of cultivating spaces of belonging in pedagogy that are in service of educational flourishing and wellbeing:

“In my classes, for example, my students engage in what I call self-work – the getting at beliefs that impact practices and eventually set classroom and school policies that are often at odds with the everyday needs and realities of young men of color in the schools where they serve,” she told the Regents. “We engage in deep discussions on race, culture, linguistic and ethnic diversity, racism, and the skills and dispositions necessary to be an effective teacher of ELA and other content areas in high schools. I have learned over my almost 20 years of teaching at the college and university level, that without this type of self-awareness, it becomes difficult for the knowledge and skills I teach to have any traction or sustainability.”

Sealey-Ruiz emphasized the need for a statewide focus on “better teacher education and professional development to help teachers working with students of color, and the need for increased recruitment of African-American males – who currently comprise less than 2% of the nation’s teaching force — into the teaching profession.”

For more on this story, please visit the article posted on the Teachers College website.


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