Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday will host an Internet discussion aimed at uncovering why young black and Hispanic men are “less successful” in the job market and in school, and what causes encounters between them and law enforcement.
The discussion is part of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, which the administration announced in February. That initiative created a task force including Duncan as education secretary, and is meant to develop proposals to “enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones” for young black and Hispanic men.
In his February announcement, Obama said many groups have recognized that “persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes, and career skills remain for many boys and young men of color throughout their lives.” He said many of these boys and men are behind both in school and in job training, and said underemployed or incarcerated men “undermines family and community stability and is a drag on state and federal budgets.”
Duncan’s discussion on Monday afternoon will focus on jobs, the criminal justice system and education.
On jobs, Duncan plans to ask participants the biggest reason why these young men are “less successful in the job market than other young people.” Suggested answers are insufficient education or skills, inadequate connections or networking, or employer stereotypes.
On the issue of criminal justice, Duncan will ask what cause “interactions by boys and young men of color with the juvenille/criminal justice system.” Suggested answers here include exposure to violence, a lack of positive influences, and biased law enforcement.
And on education, Duncan will ask how to improve education, and suggests the need for a more engaging curriculum, improved teacher quality, early access to college-level work, and increased collaboration between schools, families and communities.
Duncan will also ask how to improve the graduation rate, and proposes more financial aid, lower college costs, and better guidance when applying to college as possible answers. It also proposes shorter pathways to a high wage career, and a culturally relevant educational environment as other possible answers.
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