juwanza_kunjufu_2.jpgLAUDERDALE LAKES — The graduation rate for black boys attending Broward County public Schools during the 2011-2012 school year was 68.2 percent, up 7.1 percent from the previous year, according to a December 2012 School Board memo.

The graduation rate in Miami-Dade County was 68.3 percent, and in Palm Beach, 64.8 percent.

Despite those poor showings, according to the Black Boys Report, black male students in the Broward County school system graduate at rates above the state level, and at the national averages.

The Schott Foundation for Public Education publishes the report on the outcomes for black males in public education. The foundation’s mission is to develop and strengthen a broad-based and representative movement to achieve fully resourced, quality pre-K to 12 public education.

The report says in Broward County the white graduation rate is 83.6 percent: for hispanics it is 78.4 percent; and for Asians, 89.5 percent.

“This is unacceptable,” Juwanza Kunjufu, author and social justice advocate said about the low graduation numbers for blacks. “By the time they reach the ninth grade, black boys are no longer sitting in the front (of the class). They are sitting in the rear. They are no longer on task. Something happens that really begins in kindergarten.”
The most critical grade is the fourth, Kunjufu said. “That’s when they drop out mentally. That’s when they feel defeated, when their spirits are broken.”

Ninety-five percent of black boys are classified “creative” at age 4. But, by age 8, Kunjufu said, that number drops to four percent.

“And the only thing that has happened to them during that time is the classroom,” he said.

Kunjufu’s remarks came during his Feb. 7 lecture on the topic “The Guidance of Youth to Adulthood.” The School District of Broward County and the city of Lauderdale Lakes sponsored the address which took place in the Boyd Anderson High School auditorium, 3050 N.W. 41st St., Lauderdale Lakes.

By eighth grade, only 12 percent of black boys are proficient in reading, Kunjufu said. “American schools are having a difficult time teaching black boys how to read. So we need the church to help teach them how.”

Kunjufu also said that more black male teachers are needed in Broward County schools.

“There are many schools in (Broward) county with not one black man in the building,” he said. “Black boys are not experiencing black male teachers. Yes, there are security guards, (physical education) teachers, custodians, and administrators.  But how many black male teachers are in Broward County?”

Without more black male teachers, the future of (the black) race will depend on mothers, Kunjufu said, adding that “a woman cannot teach her son to be a man. We need men to get out there; be leaders and role models.”

Rosalind Osgood, Broward County School Board member, agrees on the need for  male influence in a young black male’s life.

“As I look at the school district and I see the state of our black children, especially our black males, I know that we need to do a better job with pairing them up with black men,” Osgood said.

Kunjufu, Osgood said, offers the community a model for mentoring. “We should be diligent about going to the churches and fraternities and finding black men so our boys will have a physical example of a positive male figure,” she said.

Collie Blake, a Broward County Schools social worker, said. “He touched on some critical points and gave great advice that I, as a professional, will be able to use.”

Cynthia Roby may be reached at cynthiaroby@bellsouth.net