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How Oakland’s Public Schools Are Fighting To Close Achievement Gap For Black Boys

The bleak statistics for black boys here are like lyrics to a sad song that everyone’s tired of hearing but no one knows how to mute. But there’s hope for boys in this beleaguered second-city by the bay: Many are beginning to stand up and fight for their futures. And they have a whole team of black men standing up and fighting with them.

Four years ago, the Oakland Unified School District launched the office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) – the first and only school district in the country with an office explicitly dedicated to lifting the prospects of black boys.

The AAMA operates as a stop-gap, filling the spaces so often left vacant by absent fathers or the lack of black male teachers or other positive male role models. It works as a conduit between adolescence and manhood, challenging young men to realize their full potential while offering them critical life skills.