Frequently Asked Questions
What is AAMA?
The Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) works to engage, encourage, and empower African American male students throughout the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).
OUSD is the first district in the United States to create a department that specifically addresses the needs of African American male students. OUSD made the formal commitment that African American male students are extraordinary and deserve a school system that meets their unique and dynamic needs.
What does AAMA do?
Programs and Services:
- Disrupt patterns of institutional racism and work with District leadership to shift the culture to support academic excellence for all students to support successful transitions to college, career, and community.
- Change the Narrative about Black boys in Oakland.
- School-day academic mentoring course via the Manhood Development Program (grades 4-10).
- Revolutionary Literature course that satisfies English requirements for UC and CSU admission (grades 11-12).
- Man Up! Conferences: intergenerational mentorship and a full day of academic and social living workshops (grades 3-12).
- Parent engagement: provide leadership development for parents to support college readiness and college-going culture in the home (all grades).
- Collaboration and partnership in support of African American male achievement: convene partners and service providers to maximize African American male student reach and participation.
- Professional Development: provide teacher, principal, agency, and city consultancies offering multi-tiered support for those seeking guidance for successful African American family and African American male student engagement.
Why did OUSD create an Office of African American Male Achievement when so many subgroups are impacted by institutional racism?
In 2010, the superintendent, together with Oakland's Board of Education, the Urban Strategies Council, and the East Bay Community Foundation, examined longitudinal data and came to a jarring conclusion: Past initiatives had done little to transform the experiences, access, or educational attainment of African American male students. Regardless of the reform or learning theory or even school site, en masse, the educational needs of Black children were not being met.
Data revealed that African American males were the furthest away from opportunity. (On every positive indicator of success, African American boys were consistently in the lowest position while on every negative indicator African American boys were consistently in the highest position.) OUSD's theory of action, Targeted Universalism, ascertains that by transforming the system to support successful outcomes for OUSD's lowest performing subgroup, OUSD can create a district that improves academic and social-emotional outcomes for all students. AAMA is leading the school district by analyzing the patterns and processes that are producing systemic inequities. For more information about the superintendent's commitment to equity, see OUSD's Pathway to Excellence Strategic Plan.
The work of AAMA does not stop another subgroup from starting, leading, or supporting a reform initiative.
What is the Manhood Development Program?
The MDP is an academic mentoring model that offers classes taught by African American males, during the school day, in select K-12 schools. MDP lessons draw on historical and contemporary African and African American culture to support students as they explore their identity options, learn how to manage their emotions, learn how to channel their personal will, and develop a positive sense of purpose for themselves, their families, and their communities
The MDP curriculum is built upon the premise that stereotypical notions of Black masculinity have shaped the way young Black men self-identity (Nasir, 2012). Consequently, a paramount goal is to cultivate healthy identities amongst Black male students as a means of improving Black male achievement. This is in part because the instructors believe that schools are often hostile to young Black men and that Black men have also been systemically encouraged or socialized to take on self-defeating characteristics, particularly in the realm of academics (Nasir, 2012; Nasir et. al., 2013).
Nasir, N. (2012). Racialized Identities: Race and Achievement Among African American Youth. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nasir, N. I. S., Ross, K.M., McKinney de Royston, M., Givens, J., & Bryant, J.N. (2013). Dirt on My Record: Rethinking Disciplinary Practices in an All-Black, All-Male Alternative Class. Harvard Educational Review, 83(3), 489-512.
Three baseline interrelated indices of effectiveness shaped the structure and pedagogy of the MDP.
Specifically, the program seeks to:
- Increase attendance and decrease suspensions.
- Increase graduation rates and decrease incarceration.
- Increase literacy and decrease the opportunity/achievement gap.
- Grade point averages are now 25 percent higher for Manhood Development Program students than for Black male students who haven't taken the course.
- District-wide, the Black male graduation rate has improved from 42 to 57 percent since the course was introduced.
- The number of Black male high school seniors who qualify for admission to the University of California (UC) or California State University is 6 percent higher among the Manhood Development Program participants than for non-participants.
How can my student get involved if there is no MDP course offered at his school?
- Attend ManUp! conferences and other AAMA events.
- Talk to your principal about adding MDP to the roster of support services for Black boys at your school.
- Contract your school board and city council member and request that they support efforts and allocate funds to expand the MDP to every school in Oakland.
Frick Middle School
2845 64th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94605
Phone: (510) 879-2938
Thank you for supporting the Office of Equity. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, the Oakland Public Education Fund, and can be applied to our general fund, or to one of our targeted initiatives.