Black History Month

Black History Month Urban Prep Academy Gets 100% Black Male College Attendance... Again

Urban Prep Academy Gets 100% Black Male College Attendance... Again

By Boyce Watkins, PhD
Posted Feb 18th 2011 2:32PM
Urban Prep Academy

Well, they've done it again. Urban Prep Academy of Chicago, an all-male charter school with kids from the "worst" parts of Chicago, is sending 100% of its graduating seniors off to college. The school, founded in 2006, has stated that its continuous objective is to see to it that all of its students go to college. They are succeeding with flying colors.
The school started with kids whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school's incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus. But by sending all of their graduating seniors to college, they've not only gotten these kids up to speed, they've allowed them to zip past every other public school in the entire United States.

"No other public [school] in the country has done this," said Tim King, the founder of Urban Prep.

The students at the school are required to wear a jacket and tie every single day. They also go to school for two hours longer than other kids. They take English twice a day and are given a mentor with a cell number that kids can call 24 hours a day. They've clearly hit the mark when it comes to understanding that getting our children to the land of educational success requires both academic and sociological strategies.

When I first wrote about Urban Prep Academy last year, I was incredibly proud. Like Stephen Stafford, the 13-year old kid who now attends Morehouse College, the men of Urban Prep Academy are firm reminders of what black men are meant to be. We are not hard wired to be thugs, athletes or entertainers. We are meant to be just as brilliant, capable and successful as everyone else in America. Tim King is teaching his boys something that I learned while teaching college over the last 17 years: There is no such thing as "college material." Every child can be college material if they choose to be. I was personally told that I wasn't smart enough to go to college, but it takes more intelligence to make it in prison than it does to make it on a college campus. It all comes down to hard work, and black people know how to work hard.

Urban Prep also reminds me of the controversy surrounding the "Tiger Mom," Amy Chua, who believes in positioning your children for excellence. I am a huge fan of the Tiger Mom, and I believe we need a whole bunch of "Tiger Mamas" in the black community to push our children to reach their potential (our mothers are our first teachers, giving them the most important job in the world). Even those who have access to the best of American public education are falling far behind the rest of the world when it comes to their ability to compete in the 21st century. In that regard, Tim King's boys at Urban Prep are actually ahead of the curve, not just catching up.

What I also love about Urban Prep is that they are translating the excellence that black men show in athletics and transferring that to academic achievement. It takes far less effort and natural ability to become a heart surgeon than it does to become an NBA basketball player. By diversifying our paths toward professional and economic success, we are helping thousands of black men avoid the standard trappings of the typical inner city hoop dream. As I rally for educational equality and Kelley Williams-Bolar today with Rev. Al Sharpton, I think about how this city would have treated Kelley's kids differently if one of their names had been LeBron James. It's shameful that black kids are rewarded for being athletic, but punished for being intelligent.

We must all cheer for Urban Prep like they just won the Super Bowl. They should be given millions more dollars to pursue their objectives. Their educational model should be replicated in every city across America. They are showing us that black men are not destined for failure, fundamentally flawed or built for mediocrity. We truly embody excellence.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the book, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College." To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

889 Comments

Filter by:
henry0521

I represent a surburban school district that's 98 percent white whose teachers, staff, students and Board are bathining in the joy thar these young men are experiencing at their trumphant moment. The people in this community believes that the public should celebrate the successes of their students irrespective of the race or ethnicity. This is what deives human being to achieve goals far beyond their expectations. Like the students in Urban Prep Acadmy, I am Black and a 2i yeard veteran Board member having served as president six terms of a Surburban School that's 98% White. I am pleased to have had the young men at Urban Prep Acadamy validate my credentials there are more individuals among use who are equal to or as competent. as I.

I will make copies of this artical, if permissible, for my Board and staff that will encourage our students to achieve higher thresholds of learning due to the courage and challenge of Urban Prep to have raised the bar that may not have been thought (among themselves) possible until now.
I applaude the vision and tenacity of Dr Watson, his staff, consultants and funding authority for the great job it has done as we face institutional and urban decline in our nation

February 20 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
harsh8

We all celebrate the success of determined students who learn. We should get the whole picture here, however. Tell us, not just a couple of things the school did; but, rather all the things that the school did. Start with the money. Every student gets a cell phone and mentor. How much did that cost. Every student must wear a suit and tie. What's the cost there? We're all for success. We should pursue it and emulate it where we can. But let's not deceive ourselves about how it is achieved or what it costs. And if we are willing to put our taxpayer money into academics like we do for athletics, then let's get real about how that will be done. It isn't going to be achieved by political policies that gut public funding for everything but the military spending and congressional salaries. It isn't going to be done by balancing state budgets on the backs of teachers. Let's get the whole picture.

February 20 2011 at 6:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to harsh8's comment
Ms. Corrine

Why are you talking money here when the young men are succeeding? You should be ashamed of yourself. When it comes to the success (college) for these black young black men, why you want to talk about money? Do you complain about the money (prison) when so many young men are looking forward to spending the average of 30 years in prison? I would rather give to the schools that support these young men than to the state to keep incarcerating these young men. I would love to see these young men pursuing careers in banking, archituture, marketing, or whatever, than athletics. But if they can handle a ball better than their brains, do that. Offer your moral support if you can't offer financial help.

February 21 2011 at 4:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
This is Corey

I am a proud graduate of urban prep the school really is amazing class of 2010 gooooo UP

February 20 2011 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
natashaygsi

While I don't believe that the school is in any way race preferencial, I do think that the writing of this article is. It's wonderful what this school is doing for the community. This just goes to show you that if all educators cared about their students like this school does, then we would surely see an increase of impacting education. Education like this shouldn't just belong to those at Private/Prep schools. This is a way of teaching that, really, should be enforced at every public school.
But back to the "racism" issue that many people seem to have with this article. I don't think that it's the school's intention to create a one race learning community, and I've never experienced that part of chicago so I can't say anything about the racial ratios. I researched their admissions methods, and each student is selected by means of lottery. It's open to any boy living in the Chicago area We should be proud that any student, no matter the race, is getting this opportunity. This creates a beginning point of all schools to model themselves after. But I do have a problem with the writer of this article. Why did he feel the need to ALWAYS emphasize the black men? I agree that you should have pride in your race. But not so much that you only give praise to that race alone. That's how racism is instilled. By one group having too much pride in their own race over another. Why focus on race at all? Isn't it enough that these men are doing so well in their education? Why keep sticking in all those random opinions on the modern black man? Doing this only makes this writer seem like he's insinuating that black people have it worse than others. Which, sadly is something a lot of peole in this country believe. In fact, there are more white families that are impoverished, than there are black. I'm not trying to create an argument about who has it worse, but only to point out, Why the hell does it matter? Shouldn't it be enough that any human being is suffering? What does race have to do with it?
I congratulate these boys on their success and applaud their teachers for their care. But i do neither of these for Dr. Watkins. He improperly and in bad taste, praised success as if race had anything to do with it. When in reality, not matter the race, a person could be in a bad situation and succeed in academics if they have the right resources. What does the fact that their black have to do with it? It leads me to believe that people only respond to success in the face of adversity. Can't it just be enough that they've achieved so much?

February 20 2011 at 12:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to natashaygsi's comment
Ms. Corrine

Why shouldn't Dr. Boyce appauld the success of these BLACK young men? What's wrong with that? White people have always gotten the "pass." These young black men need all the help they can get. When white people shout that black people are being racist because they want to praise their own pond, you black people without any knowledge gets all swelled up and stupid. Black people can't be racist, fool. White people invented racism and they will own that title for the rest of their white lives.
Congratulations, young men, and much success to the next class of young Black men at Urban Prep. I wish my grandsons were in that area to attend that school. If I had the money I would certainly move there. Our young black men are being losted to this system every since slavery and you black women are doing nothing to help. Don't down Dr. Boyce for pointing out the obvious.
And furthermore, the fact that they are black has EVERYTHING to do with it. Nobody expects young black men to make it, other than to prison, so this is some good ****. Stop whinning about how Dr. Boyce presented this article, it was GREAT.

February 21 2011 at 5:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
txbootz

I am a retired teacher, but how I would have loved to teach in an environment like that school. Imagine, supportive parents, a great administration, and students willing to put in the hard work and time required to qualify for a college education. Congratulations to all of the above people. None of you could have done it without the other.

February 19 2011 at 10:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pa5smi

While on the surface this is a commendable accomplishment (far preferable to dropping out and seeking a career in crime), I think a college education is neither appropriate or practical for all. Those more skilled in vocational careers shouldn't waste their time pursuing a course of study at which they are less competent or
less interested. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters etc. will always be in demand and are now handsomely
compensated for their efforts. Careers in these fields are just as noble and, depending upon the location,
just as needed. One size does not fit all.

February 19 2011 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CAE5877

I am a white 52 year old female. I say "congratulations" to all the Seniors of Urban Prep Academy, I really am proud of you. I would much rather see black males from worst parts of Chicago graduate from school and going to college than to see them drop out of school to be on the streets joining violent gangs and shooting at me or others. Completion of an education is the one thing nobody can take away from you.

February 19 2011 at 10:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cmax383666

How in the world can you call it a public school when it obiviously is it is a private school.Can other races have organizations such as this .I am not saying there is not good here but i think the question is fair.I am also not saying that this is a racist thing it is just i have spent the past 50 years hearing and living in a world that has been hollering about this issue.

February 19 2011 at 9:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cmax383666's comment
notsonfast

It amazes me how people forget the historical context affecting today's young black children. And yes, I said black. This school is very relevent to current social issues that stem from the remnants of years of racism in this country. Unfortunately, you can not legislate to someone how to feel. There is a huge "achievement gap" across this country between the performance of white and black students. You should look it up. The point of this school is to close that achievement gap by providing an educational atmosphere (that black people have assessed from their own personal experiences) will solve the problems creating the gap. Have you have ever experienced being black in public school. Having black friends does not count. There is nothing wrong with specializing a public school to deal with issues that are public school issues. We have magnet schools and charter schools all over the country. Because black people pay into public education as everyone else, and are clearly underserved as a community this is a good solution until you can change the hearts of men. Black people get just as tired of listening to whites say things are not right when we do things to nurture our community. Face it, the whole system is set up to nurture white kids. That is a PART of the reason why black kids are not performing as well. Schools did not start out integrated. People fought for that. The curriculum as far a history and cultural differences definitely is not integrated. It may never be. This school provides a curriculum by black people for black people. That's why the children can relate. Who do you think will best love a loving mother's child? Her or a stranger. Not every stranger practices humanity.

October 26 2011 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
acsiac

I agree with Chunky Rooster. Success should be demanded of our children. But, I guess academic success is an accomplishment because the White oppressors don't want us to succeed. We were at the top of our game decades, ago. But, after desegregation, we wanted to assimilate with our oppressors and that was our downfall. I am not giving the oppressor credit for our unity during that time because one has nothing to do with the other. Unity and self-empowerment should be preached and practiced in our community, regardless of any attacks on our culture.

The Asians and the Jews are successful because they are taught that the grass is greener right where they stand, as opposed to it being greener on the other side of the fence. Don't get me wrong! The bulls eye on the Black community is the biggest anyone has ever seen but, the difference is that when the world becomes too cold and frigid for other groups, they can always go back to their community school, medical center, restaurant, grocery store, etc.

I see this photo of these young Black men, laughing and celebrating their accomplishment, and I am sad for them. I shudder when I think of the day when they will be exposed to the coldness of this cruel world and realize that it is not what they know, but who they know that will help them with employment. What you know only works if you have learned how to use the knowledge you have gained to empower yourself, in some way. College only prepares you to become a good employee. This poor economy is forcing many Americans to realize what many immigrant communities already knew: self-empowerment through entrepreneurship is vital to their community.

However, if you haven't any self-worth you would not believe it possible to have some sort of control over your own destiny. You would believe that your survival and success was completely dependent on what your oppressor provides you or what you demand that your oppressor provides you. Just remember that whatever concessions that ANY oppressor makes is something that he/she can, comfortably, do without.

There are a culmination of reasons why Black students lag behind in the public school system and a curriculum based on White supremacist lies is the root cause.

February 19 2011 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MIKE4EVER

This has been going on for generations all the way to when their were separate schools for the races. Black childrens still succeed with out of date books but what they had was parents, teachers that were interested in seeing that they get the learning they needed. It was always hard for blacks to succeed in learning because they had to start with nothing in order to make something.

Black children have always been subject to overcrowding classrooms but still the teachers put a real effort into teaching each child, it was not until all kids start going to school together that we hear so much about overcrowding and too many childrens in the room for the teacher.

The fact is that college is not turning out teachers who can really teach all children and are so afraid of teaching a lot of children at one time. But seem like two things may happen because we are broke, schools are closing, people are home schooling and these kids grow up not knowning how to work with anybody but someone the same color they are. So there goes the neighborhood. They only see white kids, so they figure they are the only one in the world and everyone else is invisible to them.

Parents should be interested in what their children are doing in school and what they are learning and stop giving the teachers a hard time. Because all races are in school together, no one want anyone to tell their children what to do when to do and why they have to do. That is the problem. Parents can't admit that their child might deserves standing in the corner on one foot for five minutes or the teacher tap their hands with a ruler when they have acted up. Instead we cry abuse, heck some of the kids only learn how to behave when they g to school because parents are so afraid to say no their child that the child can get away with anything right up to the day they turn 18, and then the judge, tell them you are adult now, you go to jail.

I am 61 and I did not grow up pampered now did I pampered by children. I wasn't hard on them but I taught them right for wrong, the ability and the need to work and get a good education and never settle for less. Sometimes parents live under the impression that our children do not want us to correct them or teach them right for wrong, but that is not true. It is our job to raise them from birth until they leave home on their own. They say it is abuse to spank your child, granted some parents do carry the abuse too far and they are the ones that should be handled. But I can bet their are parents around my age or older can say hard they thought their parents were then and now are greatfull for the lesson they was taught by them.

Parents today are too soft and easy and children knows it and will use it to their advantage and in the end a lot of innocent people pay for the lack of training that parents did not give to their childrens.

February 19 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply