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The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA), the Obama administration’s targeted effort to support educational success in the Black community, recently released a new tool for parents to use to help their children thrive in school: a checklist that will help parents, guardians and educators to work together to provide students with a quality education.

“[The Initiative] was established by President Obama to insure that there was an intentional and unapologetic focus on supporting the learning and development of African American students,” said David J. Johns, executive director of the Bill of Rights in a conference call with several members of the media on Friday, July 24.

The Initiative strives to support work being done by the Department of Education in three ways: by providing platforms for communities to recommend ways to make all students feel “safe, engaged and supported,” to pinpoint resources that can support those efforts and to connect caring and concerned adults to want to help.

Created as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Education, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the National Parent Teacher Association and America Achieves, the checklist is a list of questions to help adults “think about how they can develop a plan and really work together to support all of our students,” says Johns. He also says that “anyone who can be, or otherwise should be, enrolled in the process of supporting learning and development” can, and should, make use of this tool.

The checklist features questions like, “How will you as an educator of my child, or the teacher/leader of a young person that I care about or mentor, keep me informed about their progress on a regular basis? and “How are you working together to ensure that the school is safe, supportive and inclusive, in every way, for all students?” It also includes tips for academic achievement and resources that provide additional information.

It is supported by a “bill of rights” that corresponds with a child’s educational journey, which Johns broke down into three principles: the importance of quality early childhood education; “the need for “safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards”; and that all students in this country, particularly Black students, should have access to affordable, quality post-secondary education options.

“To be really clear, our hope is that these tools support Black families and all caring and concerned individuals who should be engaged in the work of supporting our children, our communities and our country to ensure that educational excellence for all is not a goal, but something that is required and a prerequisite for how we do business,” says Johns.

So far, the organizations involved with the creation of the checklist have been distributing it to parents within their networks. With the first day of school quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see the impact the checklist makes. In light of what we reported just this morning, this is a start, but what’s next?

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