We must all cheer for Urban Prep like they just won the Super Bowl. They should be given millions more dollars to pursue their objectives. Their educational model should be replicated in every city across America. They are showing us that black men are not destined for failure, fundamentally flawed or built for mediocrity. We truly embody excellence.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the book, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College.
When I read the article, Urban Prep Academy Gets 100% Black Male College Attendance. I was as excited as if I had been one of their teachers. As a former teacher, I remember the kids who were labeled not worth the effort.
Years ago, I was substituting in a middle school when a young man announced that he was dropping out of school as soon as he turned sixteen. He had already been held back a year and was having another difficult year. In the teacher’s lounge, I mentioned this to one of his teachers. Her reply to me was, “No-one in his family has ever graduated from high school. We never expected him to make it!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She turned and walked away as if the subject was closed. Since the teachers worked in teams, I approached another one of his teachers to ask if anything could be done to keep this young man in school. She looked at me and said, I’m assuming that you’re a substitute teacher. This is nothing that you need to be worried about” Then she turned and walked away.
I was furious! This absolutely was something that I needed to be worried about. He was a member of our community and just because no-one in his family ever graduated high school didn’t mean the cycle couldn’t be broken.
This young man was Caucasian. I think it is important to mention this because the color of his skin was not a factor in the way his teachers reacted to him. It was more his economic status…He was just a poor kid who lived in a trailer park with all the other losers.
I would love to see Urban Prep Academies open up all across the nation. I would love to see them open to any child at risk of falling between the cracks of our educational system. I think the program should be color blind and open to both males and females.
I believe it should include any young person that society has tossed aside at an early age as… not worth the investment of our time and energy.
*** In 1992, a Harvard representative came to a public high school to speak to the students about the University. A guidance counselor stopped a young man at the auditorium door and said, “Why are you going in there? You’re not Harvard material.” The young man, who was an honor student but had a mild learning disability, respectfully replied, “That’s not what my mother told me.”
Today that young man is a very successful North Carolina Attorney with a thriving practice.