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In order to improve long-term educational outcomes for African-American boys—including those who ultimately become college graduates—key developmental supports must be put in place during the earliest years of their lives, particularly for those exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of poverty and all its attendant stressors.

That’s the essential message that emanated from “A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success”—a symposium held at the National Press Club on Monday and jointly sponsored by the Educational Testing Service and the Children’s Defense Fund.

The conference focused primarily on the critical nature of the first nine years of life and how intellectually enriching experiences during this period—or lack thereof—can have a lifelong impact. And it put as much emphasis on what takes place when Black boys are still in the womb, in the cradle and in pre-school as it did on what takes place when they enter kindergarten and ultimately traverse from the first through fourth grade.

Several speakers—from those in the audience to panelists and conference conveners—attacked a culture of low expectations that they say permeates America’s classrooms, where they allege that Black boys too often get wrongly pegged as low academic performers and swiftly and inordinately punished for effusing energy that is often misinterpreted and misunderstood.

“Children live up or down to our expectations,” said Marian Wright Edelman, the esteemed founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “We have to break the code of silence when children are being rained on and their hopes are being rained on and their futures being dimmed because adults are telling them that they’re not worth very much.” (more)

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Article by JAMAAL ABDUL-ALIM, Diverse Magazine | Read full article here