New JCPS girls’ academy is a win for educational equity in Louisville

Louisville’s W.E.B. DuBois Academy has just opened back up for its second year of operation. In case you’ve missed out on all the exciting video clips, the DuBois Academy is a new, innovative middle school with a mission of empowering young boys of color. It’s been so successful that for the past year, the conversation about opening a similar school for girls has really heated up.

Last Tuesday, the Jefferson County Board of Education made history after a unanimous vote to do just that.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is planning to launch a new academy for girls of color next year in the Louisville area. Like the DuBois Academy, the new all-girls school will also draw upon an Afrocentric and gender-specific curriculum, but will focus primarily on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

“The curriculum itself will be designed so they can see themselves everywhere they go in every class in their curriculum and understand what it takes, that they’re not an anomaly, that there are a lot of people that have come before them that have done this work,” said John Marshall, JCPS Chief Equity Officer.

That’s a win for educational equity in Louisville.

We know that young men and women of color are too often subjected to the Belief Gap, and that implicit bias — while often unintentional — can significantly impact student outcomes and success. Schools like the new girls’ STEAM academy in JCPS challenge the Belief Gap by creating an environment of excellence and surrounding students with teachers and texts that mirror their own cultural backgrounds.

“It’s always important to have somebody that looks like you that you see that is successful in other areas besides entertainment or sports,” said parent Corinne Rice in an interview with Spectrum 1 News. “I grew up in the JCPS school system and we didn’t have that. I was even told by one teacher in high school that I wouldn’t amount to anything.”

At this time, it’s still uncertain what the criteria for admission to the new all-girls school will be. JCPS has yet to decide upon a name and location for the new school, and a principal still needs to be hired as well. That’s a long to-do list, especially considering that the school plans to open next academic year.

When it does, we can expect even greater opportunities for young girls of color in Louisville.

 

Photo via Nicolas Henderson, CC-Licensed.

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