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Dear Washington, D.C., Schools: What About the Girls?

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Washington D.C. plans to invest $20 million to boost minority male academic achievement but D.C. Public School are missing another important group: females of color. A new study finds that this demographic is also trailing significantly behind white peers. students.

In January 2015, D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson shared the city's plan to pump this money into programs for male African American and Hispanic students. This includes a college preparatory high school for boys, citywide programs for tutoring, and activities at ill performing schools.

The programs ideas are similar to Obama's initiative, "My Brother's Keeper," with the goal to keep men of color out of prison and in the classroom.

The ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, is not sure that the initiative to empower males is legal. The study concludes that there's no reason taxpayer money was used to design a program that does not allow females, and that it's an impending violation of federal laws due to gender discrimination.

The study said that the documents produced show that DCPS is unlikely to back up the omission of girls because even their own data shows that the racial achievement gap has an effect on girls of color.

The ACLU points out that the constitution's Equal Protection Clause prohibits public schools from running programs that bar one gender unless there is a persuasive justification. In addition, single-gender programs can't be backed on broad generalizations of preferences, capacities, or talents.

In D.C., Caucasian students outperform their African American counterparts on standardized tests, with the black male demographic scoring the lowest. However, females of color also underperform, and there's been controversy that it's unfair that D.C. Public Schools is acting like the problem is a gender issues and not a racial one.

City leaders argue that black boys graduate at a rate of 48 percent and Hispanic boys at 57 percent, compared to white boys who graduate at a rate of 82 percent.

Again, the ACLU study found that minority girls are not doing much better, with black girls graduating at a rate of 62 percent and Hispanic at 66 percent. White females graduate at a rate of 91 percent.

DCPS has no plans to pull the program.

According to Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, the organization may file a lawsuit against Washington D.C. challenging the program.

I am all for the support of men of color, but I do agree that it's unfair to exclude females of color. These young women deserve the best shot at catching up with their white female counterparts. I am interested to see if changes are made in DCPS to support girls of color, too.

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