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Citing Achievement Gaps, Obama to Launch 'My Brother's Keeper' Task Force

Minority-Men-Barack-Obama-Blog.jpgBy guest blogger Michele McNeil, cross-posted from the Politics K-12 blog:

Pointing to the large achievement gap between black or Hispanic boys and their white peers, the Obama administration today plans to announce a collection of initiatives called "My Brother's Keeper" to help improve the lives of boys of color.

The initiatives include a new presidential task force that will, among other things, develop a website maintained by the Department of Education that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in "absolute and relative terms," according to the White House.

President Obama also plans to announce that foundations are committing an additional $200 million "to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system, ladders to jobs, and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities."

With Congress largely bogged down by partisan bickering, Obama has vowed to use his "pen and phone" to go around lawmakers to get things done. So this is one of those efforts. But none of these initiatives to be announced today, frankly, will put much of a dent in the achievement gap if you consider that the federal government spends more than $14 billion a year on Title I grants, which are meant to boost the achievement of disadvantaged students. Despite all of that spending, achievement gaps have barely narrowed since the 1980s.

Photo: President Barack Obama is introduced by Christian Champagne, 18, a senior at Hyde Park Career Academy in Chicago, before speaking about his new initiative to provide greater opportunities for young black and Hispanic men on Thursday in the East Room of the White House.—Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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