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Governance and the Future of Black Colleges

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For years, historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, as they are commonly known, have occupied a special space in the pantheon of American higher education. Founded during a period of hostile, entrenched and legally enforced segregation, these extraordinary institutions have exceeded expectations in unforeseen ways. From the start, black colleges depended upon white philanthropy and later state government for financial support. They enjoyed a pure monopoly on African-American students and faculty members. And almost single-handedly, they created the nation’s black middle class, comprising teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.

Today, black colleges are iconic institutions, considerably more than centers of higher learning. Whether rural or urban, public or independent, they are repositories of history, art, culture and politics. Their campuses feature buildings with distinctive architecture housing priceless works by African-American artists, muralists, writers, composers and sculptors. Their libraries contain volumes of books, journals, monographs and myriad products of research by African-American scholars. Every black college has a story to tell: Hampton University’s Emancipation Oak; the monument to the United States Colored Troops who founded Lincoln University in Missouri; Jubilee Hall at Fisk University, named in honor of its renowned choral group that traveled the world raising money to support the school. The list goes on.

Yet desegregation of higher education has devastated black colleges. About 90 percent of African-American students are enrolled in majority colleges and universities. As result, notwithstanding their historic significance and their past and current contributions to higher education and American society, many black colleges are imperiled — and have been for quite some time. In fact, whether they care to admit it or not, for a variety of reasons, some beyond their control, many HBCUs are in a death spiral and may not be salvageable.

Now is the time for candor and self-assessment. Many people, even ardent HBCU supporters, including the author, find it difficult to face the hard truth: some HBCUs need to seriously explore options that include pruning or culling. And for others, it may be time for an exit strategy that could include merging or closing.

A Quest for Sustainability

In 1986, Hugh Gloster, then president of Morehouse College offered this sobering assessment: “History has shown that the private black college experience a very slow death … you will have an increasing number of weak private colleges lose accreditation, and they will lose enrollment, and then they will lose financial stability. Now, whether they will die is another question.”

Read full story at Inside Higher Ed

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Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee named the next chancellor of DC Public Schools

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Letter from the Mayor

Dear Washingtonians,

This afternoon, I announced Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee as the next chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS). Dr. Ferebee is a strong educator and leader with a wide breadth of experience as a teacher, an administrator, and a superintendent.

In his work with students, educators, and families, Dr. Ferebee has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving student outcomes. He understands the complexities of leading a large urban school district in a growing city. He knows there’s no-one-size-fits-all solution to meeting the needs of our young people. And he has experience building partnerships that ensure more students have a path toward success.

Dr. Ferebee, who is the son of educators and began his career in education as an elementary school teacher, has been leading Indianapolis Public Schools since 2013. In his time there, he has been successful in rethinking how to prepare high school students for college and careers and working to ensure the programs and apprenticeships the system offers are in line with the state’s current and future workforce needs. He also recognized the importance of early learning and significantly increased the number of students in early education programs.

I want to thank Dr. Amanda Alexander for her service and dedication to the entire DCPS community. In February, Dr. Alexander stepped up to lead our schools without any hesitation. She ensured that we were able to finish out last school year strong, continue our improvements regarding data integrity, and begin the current school year better prepared to tackle long-standing challenges.

I also want to thank the Our Schools DC Leadership Committee for their work engaging the community at forums and focus groups across the city, providing me feedback, and meeting with the finalists.

We have an incredibly talented workforce at DCPS. In schools across all eight wards, our classrooms are filled with rigor and joy. The progress our educators have made and continue to make is reflected in the passion our students have for learning.

As we welcome Dr. Ferebee to the team, I am optimistic about the future of DCPS and our community. One of the major benefits of a system of mayoral control with council oversight is that we are better positioned to use every resource available to support our students. By working across agencies, we can set high expectations in the classroom while also ensuring that when our students and families need support outside of the classroom, we are acting quickly as a District to provide it.

In the coming weeks, we will share more information about opportunities to meet and get to know Dr. Ferebee.

Let’s keep working together to lead DCPS into the next phase of excellence.

Sincerely,

Muriel Bowser

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Now accepting new students into our Positioned for Greatness Youth Program (P4GYP)

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Middle school and high school can be the toughest seasons for our children. This program meets your child right where he or she is to help them navigate successfully during this time.

We address issues they face daily in our life skills discussions while helping them plan for the future. Activities and trips will broaden their horizons and introduce them to the many possibilities that exist for life after high school.

This is a learning environment where leadership and community service are the foundation.

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Anacostia News

#RethinkSchool: Bringing Hopes and Dreams to Those Most in Need

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Like moths to a light, people from all over the country gravitate to Washington, D.C. – longing to make a difference, witness history and understand the complexities of the political process. I am like many young transplants that moved to D.C. for work and began to understand the social justice issues that threaten those who are native to our nation’s capital.

However I, unlike many other young transplants, had to quickly navigate the complexities of the education system. From my own experience, I know the difference a quality education and support system can make on students growing up in poverty.

So, when I moved to D.C. as the sole caregiver for my teenage sister, I knew exactly what she needed to be able to thrive. She needed a quality education, healthy community and individuals who could serve as mentors. As I researched areas to live and send my sister to school, I discovered Anacostia is home to some of D.C.’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods. From food insecurity to lack of affordable housing, the residents in this community are confronted with daily obstacles.

When I got word that a new charter school, Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA), was opening in Anacostia, I was curious. I wondered if the founder received the same information about the area that I had. I wanted to know her hopes for the school and dreams for the poverty stricken community. Most of all, how they were going to Rethink School.

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