Founded in 1996 by Phillip Jackson, The Black Star Project is committed to improving the quality of life in Black and Latino communities of Chicago and nationwide by eliminating the racial academic achievement gap. Our mission is to provide educational services that help pre-school through college students succeed academically and become knowledgeable and productive citizens with the support of their parents, families, schools and communities.
Additionally, we help students aspire to post-secondary educational opportunities and training while exploring careers that will be emotionally, intellectually and financially rewarding. Our services are available to all students, particularly low-income Black and Latino students who attend low-achieving schools in disadvantaged communities. In order to achieve our goal of eliminating the racial academic achievement gap, we concentrate on three main areas of initiative: student engagement, parental development and advocacy. The Black Star Project conducts its programming and varied approaches to closing the racial academic achievement gap primarily through parent and student leadership development and advocacy.
Schools cannot educate children without the support of parents, families and communities. Good teachers and administrators are invaluable to the educational process, but they are not miracle workers. Schools, by themselves, do not educate children; they simply reinforce and expand what children already know when they come to school. What happens in a school is important; but just as important is what happens in the home and the community where the child lives. Societal structures, value systems, cultures, institutions, and positive environments are powerful influencers of education in children. Good schools seldom (if ever) create good communities; but good communities usually create good schools! Active and involved parents, families, communities are necessary to educate children.
The Black Star Project operates with a belief in the strength of parental and community involvement in education to eliminate the racial academic achievement gap. Better parents produce better communities, better schools and better students! The most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income, race, language barriers, cultural background, education level of parents or social status, but the extent to which a student’s family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning; express high and realistic academic achievement expectations for their children; and become involved in productive ways in their child’s education at school, at home and in the community.
The Black Star Project is committed to improving the quality of life in Black and Latino communities in Chicago and nationwide by eliminating the racial academic achievement gap. This gap is evidenced by discrepancies in statistics such standardized test scores, high school graduation rates, college success rates between Black and Latino students and their White peers. Although the racial academic achievement gap refers to a crucial issue in today’s education sector, the gap is by no means a concern exclusive to education. Receiving a quality education greatly increases one’s ability to get a job, insure their financial future and plan for the success of future generations. In many ways, education is the key to improving the quality of life in low-income Black and Latino communities. As a form of capital, education passes from parent to child; if it not saved, nurtured and grown, it will die. Therefore, by giving communities the skills, information and resources to receive a quality education and help others to see the value in doing so, we can ensure the quality of life for future generations. Additionally, in a more globalized economy, measuring success through a comparison with other American students is no longer sufficient. We have begun tracking academic gaps between American students and others from around the world. We will not stop until all American students, be they Black, Asian, White, Latino, or Native American, are competing on par with their peers in Hong Kong, Finland, India, China, or Germany.
The Black Star Project works to promote awareness and understanding of the racial academic achievement gap by synthesizing and disseminating information about the gap. The following are key documents that we have compiled to do just this:
Finally, we would like to acknowledge that statistics, especially from Standardized Tests, can be misleading. We therefore encourage you to find out for yourself. Visit schools, talk to parents, teachers, administrators and, most importantly, talk to students about their experiences at school, what they’ve learned recently, and what they aspire to be when they grown up. Only then will you fully understand the problem, and only then will you be part of the solution!
Become a Member
We need your support! The Black Star Project is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible to the full extent of the law. You can donate online with a credit card through this secure site.
Levels of Membership:
Friends of Progress
Guardians of Progress
Supporters of Progress
Champions of Progress
Sponsors of Progress
You can select the “recurring donation” check box to become a $10 per month member and spread your payment throughout the year.
Benefits of Membership:
We keep our members updated with event invitations and the latest information on eliminating the racial academic achievement gap
With a donation of at least $50 we will send you a free copy of our comic book – “Educate or Die”
With a donation of at least $100 we will send you a free “Educate or Die” T-Shirt!
or you can mail a check to us at:
The Black Star Project 3509 South King Drive, Suite 2B Chicago, IL 60653
If you want more information about The Black Star Project or have any questions about membership, you can call Michael Crenshaw at 773.285.9600
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Burlington Schools Superintendent Jeanne Collins at a school board finance committee meetting on Tuesday
She said that she has taken the criticisms to heart, that she will push diversity and equity much harder. She apologized for not acting more quickly to combat racism in the schools.
She does not plan to step down, however.
Burlington Schools Superintendent Jeanne Collins has come under fire this spring from critics who complain she has not done enough to resolve racial problems in the schools. Some have called for her resignation. Monday, she offered her position — part confession, part plan of action — in a statement published Monday at burlingtonfreepress.com and in today’s Burlington Free Press printed edition.
Collins said she regrets not having done more to promote diversity and expects to be more assertive in attacking what she called “disparities” in the school system. Refugee and immigrant students, many who came from Africa, have staged protests at Burlington High School and complained in the Statehouse about racism and unequal treatment in the school.
“To those of you who believe action has taken too long, and particularly to students in our district who have suffered from the racism which I know continues,” Collins wrote, “ I say I am sorry.”
Her statement drew a positive response from Rabbi Joshua Chasan, of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, who organized a private mediation session this month in an effort to reduce tensions. Chasan’s wife, Katharine, is a member of the School Board.
“Superintendent Collins provides leadership in her op-ed piece by apologizing, particularly to students, for the racism in our schools,” Chasan said in a statement at Monday night’s City Council meeting. “I’m looking for her prompt follow-up with detailed plans next week. In the meantime, I hope school commissioners will work with her to implement what I expect will be a plan to address the racism and inequity in the school district.”
Annual standardized test scores on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) show a yawning achievement gap between high-income and low-income students in the district. English language learners have among the lowest scores, a fact that African students complain they’ve been blamed for unfairly when they see the fault as lying with the school’s approach to teaching them.
Last fall, the district’s Task Force Report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion concluded that students of color are not being treated equally in city schools. The Task Force repeated a recommendation that Burlington parents of color have made repeatedly for at least a decade: Hire more teachers and administrators of color to reflect the increasing diversity in the district.
That report stirred a backlash from some Burlington teachers who have argued that Burlington High School is not in need of drastic change.
Sara Martinez de Osaba, director of the Vermont Multicultural Alliance for Democracy, has offered support to the immigrant students and has called for an acknowledgement in Burlington schools of racism’s toll. In the wake of the superintendent’s statement doing just that Monday, de Osaba issued her own statement.
“It is unfortunate that it has taken the community’s call for the superintendent’s resignation to finally hear acknowledgment that racism exists,” de Osaba said. “It is unfortunate that the most vulnerable students, the very African ELL (English Language Learner) students conveniently blamed for low test scores, had to organize a protest and a meeting with BFP (Burlington Free Press) staff in order to be recognized as intelligent and independent thinking young adults. It is unfortunate that years of complaints raised by parents, students and brave staff that pointed to disparate treatment were disregarded as either isolated incidents or exaggerated accounts.”
De Osaba said Collins’ statement gives her hope: “It will be good to see what that translates into.” But she also cautioned that solutions must address underlying issues.
“There are those who think that tutoring is a solution; that is someone who does not have an inkling of the deep-seated problem of racism,” she said. “Tutoring will not erase humiliation and isolation suffered by students of color at the hands of staff and other students.” In addition, the school district should examine why so many educators of color have left the school district, de Osaba said.
In her article, Collins said she plans to spend more time in the schools visiting students to hear directly about their experiences. She also said she was “moved by the students who had the courage to protest the continuing verbal abuse suffered by children of color, often by other students.”
“In the coming days, I will be announcing a series of aggressive actions to attack disparities in the school system,” she wrote.
She did not indicate what those actions will be.
“It is not my intention to step down,” Collins wrote. “We will create an environment where all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or class, are respected and related to with equity.”
She acknowledged the district is facing “a crisis” and vowed she would not wait till next fall to address it.
“We will not tolerate acts of racism in our schools, whether by students or staff,” she wrote. “I recently met with all the administrtors of our schools to draw a clear line with accountability for such acts.”
“We will enter next school year with plans to ensure that our staff in every school knows of my insistence on zero-tolerance of racist acts and statmenet in our schools and in the community,” she wrote.
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