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Wichita Public Schools launches program aimed at reducing suspensions, increasing graduations

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Nationwide, the Civil Rights Data Collection found that in 2019, Black male students were three to four times more likely to get suspended from school. The Wichita school district this year, created the Future Ready Advocate Mentoring Program with the goal of reducing those statistics in Wichita schools.

The program is a new approach by the Wichita school district to decrease suspension rates and increase graduation rates.

“We’ve been focusing on, based on the data in this initial year, some of our African American males within the district and closing some of the gaps we see and improving their academic identity, which is that school belonging, school performance and how they feel about themselves and define themselves as students,” said USD 259 Director of Equity, Diversity and Accountability William Polite.

Through weekly one-on-one and group mentoring at all of Wichita’s public high schools, the goal is to not only help with behavioral issues and academics, but to build strong relationships, teaching lifelong skills to students in the program.

“Self awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making , making good choices and decisions and peer relationships, trying to help them really develop understanding of how they can improve their academic identity, which we hope will improve their academic performance and the ultimate goal of graduation and on to post-secondary opportunities,” Polite said.

With the mentoring program, the participating group will do weekly assignment checks, connect students to resources and work with parents to set academic goals.

“Kids come from one-parent homes where there is no male figure, there is no mentor at all. They don’t know what it is like to have someone to look up to,” said Future Ready Advocate Mentor Lawrence Allen. “And for us to build relationships with young men and show them we care and can help them in areas where they can help themselves.”

With most mentors graduates of Wichita Public Schools themselves, the program is in an initiative that hits close to home.

“We see so many of our young men and talent in our city prematurely exit life. For me, the goal for the students I serve is to not only live, but to graduate and go on to higher education and become productive members of our society,,” said Future Ready Advocate Mentor Odell Harris Jr.

The Future Ready Advocate Program has more than 90 students mentors are meeting with multiple times each week. For more information on the program, contact Polite at wpolite@USD259.net

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