Dallas ISD is looking to its students for help in solving what the district calls a critical problem. The school district is getting help from the very group of students the district says need the most help.
School leaders said black students are still falling behind other students academically. Based on scores on the TAKS, SAT, ACT, and AP exams, black students continue to lag behind all other groups, including those who speak limited English.
The achievement gap is bigger in math than in any other subject.
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On Friday, DISD brought together principals and black males from every high school. School administrators were taking notes while, one by one, students stepped up to the microphone inside the Nolan Estes Plaza to share ideas on how to improve the success rate of black boys.
Most of them agreed that the students themselves are to blame.
"Unfortunately, our kids feel that it's wrong to be smart in class and do their work," said Monterrio Jones, a Samuell High School senior. "Let go of the act of racism or saying, 'She's not teaching me because I'm black.' No, we need to stand on our own two feet like our ancestors who did it with all odds against them."
Ross said he's a straight-A student, despite being raised by a single mother who died last year.
"Will I stop here? Will I let these battles, these heartaches, these struggles keep me down? Which I refuse to," Ross said.
Vicente Reyes, executive director of core curriculum and instruction for DISD, said he plans to give teachers more training to better teach and relate to black students.
"As some of our African-American male students pointed out this morning, some teachers do treat African-American students differently. However, they also pointed out that when teachers have high expectations for them, then the results follow," he said.