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A group of male students representing “Boys Uplifted” went before the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education’s Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee Feb. 14 to speak of the impact of single gender classes.
Such personalized instruction has been incorporated at schools within the District including Jordan High School and King Drew Middle School. But it was the students from Tom Bradley Elementary School, Audubon Middle School and Crenshaw Senior High School, who were called upon to present their experiences of being in the program.
Students Jose Martinez (who is the president of the student body at Tom Bradley), Eric Payton and James “Trey” Benent each spoke of the significance of having single gender classes. Martinez noted that he has been able to concentrate more when there are no girls in the room, and therefore, has been able to get better grades. Payton also agreed that girls have been a distraction for him but, since participating in “Boys Uplifted,” he has been able to learn respect, manners and responsibility. Benent said that he has learned to set goals for himself and has been able to reach those goals since enrolling in the program.
Dr. Genevieve Shepherd, principal of the elementary school, added that since the program has been incorporated into the school’s curriculum she has not seen her fifth-grade male students in her office as often as she used to.
Tracey Ford, a student of Audubon Middle School and participant of “Boys Uplifted,” gave a specific example of what they are taught during their class time other than academics. He said that when a guest is at the door of the classroom, one student will greet that guest and then introduces him/her to the rest of the students. Ford referred to his experience in the program as a “more orderly” classroom setting.
Two students of Crenshaw High, Brison Brown and Marvin Gusman, were also given the opportunity to speak of their experience in a single gender classroom, stating that they have been allowed to mature and concentrate more.
There are 54 students who participate in “Boys Uplifted” at Tom Bradley Elementary School, 40 who are African American, 13 who are Latino and one Asian. There are 56 students who participate in the single gender class program at Audubon Middle School, 50 who are African American and six who are Latino. And, there are 20 students who participate in the program at Crenshaw Senior High School, 19 who are African American and one Latino.
The Boys Uplifted Program, designed by Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC), creates solutions to address the disenfranchisement of young men from South Los Angeles schools, workforce and societal experiences. The program is a public/private/community partnership simultaneously implemented at Tom Bradley Elementary School, a feeder into Audubon Middle School as well as Crenshaw High Schools.
The schools identify 150 at-risk boys and their families to participate in the parent and family support, academic intervention education, professional male mentoring, college preparatory services and intergenerational classroom volunteers.
Key planning partners include the three District 1 LAUSD schools, the Eta Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Delta Life Development Center for Senior Citizens.