FREE SPEECH ZONE | Black student achievement gap topic of Social Justice Symposium


Dr. Roy I. Jones, executive director of Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models)) will keynote the St. Catherine University Diversity Council’s 2010 Social Justice Symposium.

The Oct. 11-12 symposium, “Accelerating Effective, Progressive Action in Minnesota Schools: Educational Strategies and Solutions to Prepare Black Male Students for Success,” will also feature panel discussions and a film screening. All events are free and open to the public. For a full schedule visit this story.

Jones’s keynote address is 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Jeanne d’Arc auditorium inside Whitby Hall on the University’s St. Paul campus, 2004 Randolph Avenue. Assistant Professor of Communications Studies, Elizabeth Otto, interviewed Jones about his work.

Addressing the achievement gap
Extensive research demonstrates the high school achievement gap that black students, especially black male students, experience in high schools across the country.

Low high school graduation rates translate into low numbers of black male students enrolling at colleges and universities. Nationally, black women outnumber black men in college two to one. In Georgia, the headcount in 2004 was 40,043 black women to 18,714 black men. Black children are 17 percent of the nationwide student population, yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 2 percent of teachers nationwide are black men.

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Today, colleges, universities and university systems around the nation are developing educational programs and initiatives for men of color and programs to attract black males and other students of color to higher education.

Centered in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson, the Call Me MISTER program’s mission is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader, more diverse background. Student participants are selected from among under-served, at-risk communities that are disadvantaged economically and educationally..

The program links college education to K-12 teaching with tuition assistance through loan forgiveness programs for admitted students who are pursuing approved programs of study in teacher education at participating colleges. An academic support system helps to ensure both success and social and cultural support.

Since its formation 10 years ago, the program has grown to include 13 South Carolina two- and four-year colleges and institutions in five states. It won a $100,000 “Use Your Life” Award from Oprah Winfrey in 2001.

Leadership and engagement
The 2009 recipient of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education’s Pacesetter Award, Jones has successfully implemented programs in higher education throughout his career, including the initial accreditation of Claflin University, Orangeburg, S.C., into the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). He has presented workshops, seminars, forums, and panel discussions on racial and cultural issues in education.

“The Diversity Council at St. Kate’s wants to engage the Twin Cities community in this important social issue with compassion and leadership,” said Wachen Anderson, associate dean of students and multicultural education at St. Catherine University and Diversity Council co-chair. “We invite educators, parents and concerned citizens to join us in a discussion of how we can close the achievement gap among under-served students of all backgrounds.”

Symposium sponsors
Twin Cities Teacher Collaborative (TC2); Dismantling Racism Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates; and St. Catherine University’s Multicultural & International Programs and Services (MIPS), Academic Community Development Committee, and the Office of Student Affairs.