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A Probe Into the Problems of Black Boys

The symposium about the plight of black boys produced an interesting discussion, according to this EdWeek report.

The common theme: focus on their social/emotional needs at young ages, rather than academic skills.

"We want to consider ways to position this vulnerable population for educational success as early as possible in their lives," said Michael T. Nettles, a senior vice president of ETS, in opening the forum.

To make that happen, said Oscar A. Barbarin III, a psychology professor at Tulane University, in New Orleans, "kindergarten and 1st grade have to be more like preschool" in addressing children's needs holistically.

"You have to help your teachers incorporate more developmentally sensitive approaches," added Mr. Barbarin, a panelist at the symposium. His research has focused on how social factors and family practices correlate with ethnic and gender achievement gaps that start in early childhood.

Mr. Barbarin characterized schools as stressing the teaching of academic content, starting in kindergarten, but giving short shrift to supporting children to learn social and emotional skills. He said principals should be placing their very best teachers in preschool and kindergarten, so that all children get a good start in school.

Also announced, a grant for black boys in Newark.

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