perry_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Black male students in Broward County graduate from public high school at rates above the state average and those rates are improving, according to reports.

But a big gap persists between the graduation rates of black males and boys of other races. It’s a problem local educators say needs to be addressed in early childhood education, an issue that noted educator Steve Perry is expected to tackle during remarks in Fort Lauderdale next week.

“We want to bring him here to help us crack the code,” said Carletha Shaw, president of the Broward chapter of the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Perry will address the Title 1 Parent Orientation at Dillard High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26. Past speakers have included educators Jawanza Kunjufu and Chike Akua.

Title I funding goes to schools with large concentrations of low-income students, as determined by free and reduced lunch program enrollment. Broward County, a majority-minority district, has 172 Title 1 schools with an enrollment of 120,000 students, said Luwando Wright-Hines, director of Broward’s Title 1 Migrant Education and Special Programs, which organized Perry’s talk.

Perry is founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Management in Hartford, Conn. He is credited with sending 100 percent of his predominantly low-income, minority student body to four-year colleges. He’s also the host of Save My Son, a TV One docudrama that focuses on troubled young men and boys whose families have asked Perry to intervene on their behalf.      

Shaw looks forward to Perry’s discussion of teaching methods for engaging diverse students. “He’s there on the pulse of what needs to happen in impoverished communities,” said Shaw, principal of the southern portion of Broward Community Schools, which offer a range of online, in-class, adult education, academic and elective courses at schools throughout Broward County. “He’s a proponent of ensuring that students are taught culturally relevant pedagogy because he brings value to the students and their lifestyle.”

Addressing the achievement gap is among Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie’s special focus areas. Compared with their white male counterparts, far fewer black males are assigned to gifted and talented programs, while many more receive out-of-school suspensions, according to a biennial report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

The report finds that 52 percent of black males in Broward County finished high school in 2009-2010, compared with 47 percent in Florida and 52 percent nationwide. That’s up from 2007-08, when 39 percent of Broward’s black males graduated, compared with 37 percent in Florida that year and 47 percent nationwide.

To begin addressing achievement gaps, it’s important that the home, school and community work together, Wright-Hines said. Her hope is that Perry will inspire parents to become more involved by reviewing homework and keeping in regular contact with teachers. She also wants students to stay engaged throughout the school year.