Schools, Congressional Black Caucus to hold forum

By Curt Yeomans


Educators and parents from across the metro-Atlanta area are invited to participate in a one-day forum later this month on educating black male students. It is being co-hosted by Clayton County Public Schools and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

The Breaking Barriers: Fostering Excellence Among Black Males in Public Schools forum is based on the foundation's similarly named "Breaking Barriers: Plotting the Path to Academic Success for School-age African-American Males" report that Ivory Toldson, a senior research analyst for the foundation and forum organizer, wrote last year.

The forum, which is free to attend, will be held July 23, from 8:30 a.m., to 4 p.m., at the school system's Professional Learning Center, which is located at 1087 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro.

"This year, through a grant from the Open Society Institute's Campaign for Black Male Achievement, we are disseminating the findings of the 'Breaking Barriers' report in a series of forums being scheduled to discuss the strategies and policy implications proposed in the report," Toldson said in an e-mailed statement.

Clayton County Public Schools will be the only public school system in the country to host a session in the five-forum series, Toldson said. It will be the second forum in the series, following a similar one in Washington D.C., in April that was attended by more than 200 school board members, school administrators, parents and student activists, from across the country, according to the foundation.

In a written statement, the organization's president, Elsie L. Scott, said he was "excited to collaborate with a public school district to directly impact young black males," as a follow-up to the forum in Washington D.C.

Toldson said Clayton County Public Schools was chosen because of a recent study about all-black, male schools that Chandra Johnson, the school system's executive director for research and evaluation, and Qiana Cutts, a research associate in Johnson's department, submitted to the Journal of Negro Education. Toldson is also the editor-in-chief of the journal.

He said the report written by Johnson and Cutts caught his attention "as the only submission received from a public K-12 institution."

In edition to his work with the foundation, and the Journal of Negro Education, Toldson is a professor at Howard University, which works with several school systems, including Clayton County Public Schools, through its Ready to Teach program.

Officials from the school system were unavailable for comment on Tuesday. The school system's offices are closed this week for a summer break.

Because the Professional Learning Center will only have space to accommodate 200 people for the forum, Cooper and Toldson said those who want to attend the forum should e-mail their RSVPs to Toldson at itoldson@cbcfinc.org, or Johnson at cfjohnson@clayton.k12.ga.us.

The forum will begin at 8:30 a.m., Toldson said, with participant sign-in and a breakfast. He said he will welcome attendees and introduce guest speakers at 9 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m., Johnson and Cutts will present the results of their study, and Toldson will then give a presentation on his "Breaking Barriers" report at 9:50 a.m., he said. Breakout sessions will be held in the afternoon to discuss issues facing black, male students in the classroom, Toldson said.

For more information, contact the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at (202) 263-2800, or the school system, which resumes operations on Monday, at (770) 473-2700.