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by KaShawn Archer

Over the last decade problems in education have increased despite plans put in place to reverse the decline. Government efforts like “No Child Left Behind” fall short leaving many schools without the resources to provide quality education.  With a lack of citizens pursuing degrees in education and school budgets shrinking, future generations are at tremendous risk.  However there are a number of educational organizations working to bring change.  Like civil rights groups of yesteryear they’re not waiting on Washington for solutions, but crafting them in their own communities.

One of the most unique programs addressing the achievement gap today is Call Me MISTER. (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models).   Started at Clemson University but now active across the country, MISTER prepares college students, mostly African-American males from underserved and educationally at-risk communities, for teaching careers.  Student teachers work in after school programs in inner city neighborhoods, providing academic and leadership instruction.  Expanding upon daily impact in the classroom, participants come together each year to express ideas and discuss new ways to help their communities.  The program’s proactive approach and immediate integration of creative ideas into the curriculum has earned it much attention; even Oprah has touted their efforts.

Another esteemed organization is the Black Alliance For Education Options (BAEO). Their mission is to increase access to high-quality educational options for black children through programs that empower low-income and working class families. A consistent voice on the needs of African-American students, BAEO has organized to stop educational budget cuts as well as advocated for school vouchers as the number of charter schools have grown.  One of BAEO’s largest events is an annual symposium hosting more than 500 youth advocates, educators and religious leaders.  Each year a different set of issues within education is addressed.  The most recent meeting focused on the urgent need for education reform.

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