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My Brother's Keeper Program Plans to Expand

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Sixty of the nation's largest school districts are joining President Obama's initiative to improve the educational futures of African-American and Hispanic boys, beginning in preschool extending through high school graduation -- dubbed the "My Brother's Keeper" program.

The districts, which represent around 40 percent of all African-American and Hispanic boys living below the poverty line, have committed to improve access to high quality preschool, track data on male students so educators can notice signs of struggle as soon as possible, increase the number of boys of color who are enrolled in gifted, honors and Advanced Placement courses, strive to reduce the number of minority boys who are suspended and expelled, and increase graduation rates among minority males.

The initiative, announced in February, is a five-year, $200 million plan.

Minority students have experienced inequality in American schools for many years. Data from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights tells us that minority students are suspended and expelled at notably higher rates than Caucasian students. They also attend schools with less experienced teachers than their white counterparts.

Boys who are minorities are at the highest disadvantage among students; black and Latino boys are less likely to graduate from high school than white boys, and also less likely than African-American or Latino females. In elementary school, they already drop behind their white peers in reading skills.

My Brother's Keeper initiative also addresses the needs of Native American and Asian American boys.

It is so important to help prevent all students from falling behind their peers, which is why I am a huge believer in this initiative. I am glad that sixty more school districts are joining forces to work hard to make sure minority boys have great shot at success in their lives.

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