Oakland school district aims to change the trajectory of black boys

(Oakland Tribune) Just 13 percent of the children in Alameda County are African-American, according to U.S. census estimates, but you wouldn’t know it by walking through Alameda County’s juvenile hall.

Two of every three youths booked into the facility in August and September were African-American. Half of the new detainees were black boys.

The disproportionate number of young black males in the nation’s criminal justice system is well documented. But juvenile crime is often treated as a problem outside a school district’s jurisdiction — a matter for the courts to manage.

Not in Oakland.

This fall, in his second year as superintendent of Oakland’s public schools, Tony Smith created a privately funded Cabinet-level office to improve the lives of black male students, who make up about 17 percent of the district’s enrollment.

The goal of the African-American male student achievement initiative, Smith said, is “to interrupt the institutional oppression and racism that is in effect in the city of Oakland.”

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