Dallas Creates a Public School for Boys
Girls and boys usually attend classestogether in American public schools. But there are some single-sex programs,like a girls public school in Dallas, Texas. It opened in two thousand four.The students have done well enough that the school system is now opening aschool for boys.
The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy ispart of the Dallas Independent School District. The school year begins Monday.Academy Principal Nakia Douglas has been giving tours to incoming students andtheir parents.
NAKIA DOUGLAS: "This wing here will beour electives -- specifically all of our foreign languages: Latin, Mandarin,Spanish. Our debate will be housed here."
Mr. Douglas says he was the kind of studentthat the school is seeking.
NAKIA DOUGLAS: "I was born and raisedin south Dallas by a single parent. I was a neighborhood child. I was thatchild that -- I would work if I knew the teacher believed in me. But, at thesame time, I had a hunger and desire for more. A lot of our young men have thathunger, desire and ability now."
Educational researchers say boys learn indifferent ways and mature more slowly than girls, and are more likely to leaveschool. Being in class with the opposite sex can also take attention away fromlearning.
Kendall Keeter thinks the boys school willbe good for his son the way the girls school was for his daughter.
KENDALL KEETER: "Our thought was toalso give our son an opportunity that would best prepare him for college in thesame manner she was prepared, and I can't imagine any other option that wouldhave prepared her better."
Another parent, Madeline Hayes, also likesthe idea of a publicly funded school for boys.
MADELINE HAYES: "This is something, ascheesy as it sounds, that I've always dreamed about, that there will be a boysschool that doesn't charge twenty-five thousand dollars a year, but would givethe same academics, the same level of interaction and leadership."
The school is for grades six through nine.It will offer college preparatory classes and leadership courses even onweekends.
Principal Douglas says the boys will beurged to support one another.
NAKIA DOUGLAS: "Our young men growtogether. But all of our young men we call 'brother.' So it may be BrotherMalyk Davis or Brother Samuel Keeter. The young men understand they are theirbrother's keeper. And so the young men are really learning to be responsiblenot only for themselves, but also for their brothers here at the campus."
Madeline Hayes' son Kelvin is twelve. He will be entering the seventh grade.
KELVIN HAYES: "I've always wanted ahigher academic purpose, always want somebody to challenge me when I make mymistakes. I can learn from them. And then they have classes like science,computer and robotics, and I enjoy especially robotics and building newtechnology, because when I grow up I want to be an engineer."
Fourteen year-old Malyk Davis will studycooking, or "culinary arts," at the Obama Academy in Dallas. He hasalready learned from a professional chef. However, he was not so sure he wantedto attend a school only for boys, and he heard bad things about the area.
MALYK DAVIS: "But once I began tolooking into more about the options that they were having, I think I'm reallygoing to enjoy this. It's going to be a long and tough road, but as long as I'mgraduating in twenty fifteen, that's all that matters to me."
Most students who want to be accepted intothe Obama Academy will need to have good grades and pass a number of tests. Butten to fifteen percent will not have to meet all of the entrance requirements.Principal Nakia Douglas says they will have to show they have a strongcharacter and a desire to learn.