By Kelsey Feldpausch
Lansing Township News staff reporter
LANSING- “Change isn’t change until it hits the pocket.”
“There is a huge difference between equality and equity.
These were the words of Angela Waters Austin, the founder, president and chief executive officer of One Love Global, Inc. as she tried to convince the Lansing School Board to accept the Lansing region’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, MY Lansing, during the Feb. 5 school district board meeting.
My Brother’s Keeper is an initiative President Obama announced in February 2014 for smaller communities to work towards improving the lives and opportunities for young men of color.
Board President Peter Spadafore said the board will consider joining MY Lansing among other partnerships.
Austin and Cameo King, the Project Director of One Love Global, Inc., detailed the challenge to the board, emphasizing the importance of creating economic equity.
Austin said MY Lansing focuses on six milestones on the path to equity, beginning with ensuring children are ready to start school and ending with helping students enter the workforce and avoid jail.
Austin said what MY Lansing wants to do is “take a look at some of the practices, policies and relationships that could keep kids in school.”
According to King, there is a decline in engagement among males students of color after ninth grade.
“The opportunity we see based on the numbers really comes in that ninth grade year,” said King “We see a slight drop-off of and the drop-off continues.”
Data in the presentation citing the Center for Educational Performance and Information said black males made up 26 percent of the freshman male population but only 18 percent of the senior male population in Lansing Schools in the 2013-2014 school year.
King and Austin said making efforts to fix these problems now are essential due Lansing’s rapidly growing black population.
According to the presentation, the number of people of color grew from 10.3 percent to 21.7 percent of the population in the Lansing and East Lansing Metro Area from 1980 to 2010.
Benefits the district
According to King, the school district would benefit from the partnership because of the practices, strategies and communication network MY Lansing can provide.
King said with a strong communication network, “children and families are getting the same message and getting the support that is needed.”
Despite the benefits, members of the board said the challenge would need modification if the district did decide to accept the partnership. Treasurer Shirley Rodgers said with the funding and resources available, the challenge would have to fit within the districts already established strategic plan.
“I think there are aspects in this that can help move our plan forward,” said Rodgers.
Trustee Bryan Beverly said the plan needed more concrete measurements and structure.
“I would question deliverables and how we are going to measure success both from your side and from our side,” said Beverly.
King said the school district’s partnership is essential for success in the challenge because it serves MY Lansing’s target population and has the assets required to close achievement gaps.
“We cannot do anything apart; we have to work together,” said King.