By several key measures, Wisconsin’s black-white disparities in education are the highest in the country. Last year, the state Department of Public Instruction crafted a plan to cut the achievement gap in half. It’s a plan that was required under federal education policy.
Separate from that plan, a study released recently indicates Milwaukee is moving towards reducing the achievement gap. Milwaukee landed in the top third of cities around the country in the Promise of Place report due to its recent efforts.
Milwaukee is one of The Campaign for Black Male Achievement's building block cities.
Promise of Place program manager Chris Rutherford says, "The new report has found that cities have increased investment and action for black men and boys across the U.S. since its first edition published in late 2015." He adds, "We're seeing a lot of engagement across the country with regard to providing resources for black men and boys."
The group’s study pointed to an effort at Milwaukee Public Schools as an indication of the city’s approach to reducing the achievement gap.
Dr. Juan Baez, the director of the Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement at MPS, says, "Ultimately, our objective... is really twofold. One, we want to work collaboratively with the city and the school district to create the structures, systems and pathways necessary to insure the success of our black and Latino male students."
"We envision a time where our black and Latino young men graduation from high school not only on time, but with an ability to embrace who they are, their identity, and to also have the academic skills to navigate life," he adds.
"Collaboration is essential," Baez explains. "When you think of Milwaukee as one of the most segregated cities in the country, when you think of Wisconsin being one of the worse states for black students... we know that this is something we all have to own."