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Authors of new guide, dubbed 'the Google for black boys,' in Iowa City this week

'The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys' aims to help teachers at forefront of the achievement gap

Educator and speaker Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. , one of the authors of “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys”, speaks in a classroom at the Coe College Athletic and Recreation Complex on Monday, February 12, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Educator and speaker Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. , one of the authors of “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys”, speaks in a classroom at the Coe College Athletic and Recreation Complex on Monday, February 12, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Black boys regularly find themselves in the classrooms of white women — who often have little or no knowledge of their cultures, backgrounds or communities.

That’s the issue Eddie Moore Jr. said he hopes to fix with the new book, “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” which he co-edited with Marguerite Penick-Parks and Diane Finnerty.

The trio will be in Iowa City this week — at Prairie Lights Books and Cafe on Tuesday and the University of Iowa on Wednesday — to lead discussions on how to better educate young black boys.

Although Iowa has its “challenges around diversity,” Moore — who attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Loras College in Dubuque and the University of Iowa — said white teachers often are just in need of tools to better educate all their students.

“I know for a fact being at the UI and working with future teachers that these are really good people with really good hearts,” Moore said. “A lot of times it’s almost like a kid getting to the pool for the first time — they really want to know how to swim, they really want to get in the pool, they just haven’t had the skills and training to do so.”

Moore said he hopes the guide can serve as a resource for any challenge, calling it “the Google for black boys.”

“We like to say this book is for anybody that has a young black boy in their life,” Moore said. “It could be a friend, adopted son, son of their own, somebody they coach, any way in which there’s a relationship with a black boy — we feel this book will be helpful.”

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Moore, Penick-Parks and Finnerty’s focus on black boys and white women was driven by statistics in today’s education system, Moore noted.

“By and large, we continue to see black boys lagging behind in reference to the statistics on graduation rates, in reference to special education, in reference to discipline referrals and suspensions,” Moore said. “We’re really looking at some of these numbers and trying to provide some tools and support to help us do our job better.”

In Iowa, where the graduation rate for all students is the best in the nation, at 91.3 percent, graduation rates for black students have hovered below 80 percent in at least the past six years, according to data from the Iowa Department of Education.

“We wanted to be really careful not to say these boys are bad, to blame black boys to make them out to be the bad person in reference to this project,” Moore said. “We want to look at the system, the structure — something going on in the process and the system that is playing a role in some of these gaps.”

Last year in Iowa, 6 percent of Iowa’s students were black and about 24 percent identified as a racial minority, according to the department’s annual Condition of Education report.

Less than three percent of public education teachers were identified as a racial minority in the report. More than 75 percent of K-12 teachers in Iowa are women.

Just as the guide doesn’t point fingers at black boys for persistent achievement gaps, Moore said it also isn’t intended to blame white women in the classroom.

“We looked at white teachers specifically because of the numbers as well,” Moore said. “The people that are going to be really key in helping us to close some of these gaps are white women teachers because they represent the most teachers.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

If you go

• What: Authors of “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys”

• When: 7 p.m., Tuesday

• Where: Prairie Lights Books and Cafe, 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

• What: The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys workshop

• When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesday

• Where: Room N116 Lindquist Center, Baker Teacher Leader Center, University of Iowa

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• Registration: Go to education.uiowa.edu/theguide

• What: “Breaking Up with White Privilege: A Valentine’s Day Discussion on Race, Privilege, and Action” — The authors will host an in-depth discussion on privilege and its manifestations in PreK-12 schools and higher education.

• When: 4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday

• Where: Room N116 Lindquist Center, Baker Teacher Leader Center, University of Iowa

• Registration: Go to uiowa.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5yZxnE5kHYnak85

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