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With the support of state Sen. Malcolm Smith, Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered troubled waters last week when he announced an ambitious effort to address the disparity in the achievement of black and Latino young men compared with whites and Asians. The mayor announced the Young Men’s Initiative, which will target 40 city high schools that have already made progress in addressing the low graduation rates among Latinos and blacks.
To do this, it is necessary to single out students by their race and ethnicity. But for the city to ignore the fact that graduation rates are lower in schools that serve predominantly black and Latino students would be putting its head in the sand.
We do not know all the reasons why white and Asian men are graduating at higher rates. We imagine there are a number of factors that contribute to the disparity. But we believe that the $30 million in financial assistance each from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Bloomberg Philanthropies and another $67.5 million in funding from the city will make a difference.
The money will support job readiness, college prep and literacy training and parenting workshops. An effort will also be made to help youth realize the responsibility of fathering a child.
Too many children in the black and Latino community grow up with low expectations. Hopefully, the programs announced will help the targeted young men believe that, if they work hard, endless opportunities await them.
They must believe they can claim a share of the American Dream.
Get a Job
A good education and a college degree are great things, but they mean little if the recipient cannot find a job.
Last week, York College President Marcia Keizs was placed on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York City Regional Development Council, which was created to find ways to stimulate job growth in New York.
Keizs will join leaders from nonprofits and the city’s business community. The challenge they face is daunting, but it is critical to the future of our city. Unemployment is staggering, especially among black and Latino young men.
We congratulate Keizs and wish her success.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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