Arundel Middle Parents Angry Over 'MAN UP' Program

A program designed to address the achievement gap in African-American boys has angered some white parents, who say it is too racially exclusive.

Parents of students at have expressed concern over a program designed to help close the achievement gap among African-American boys, on grounds that it has not been made open to all students.

Selected African-American boys at the school have been taking part in seminars and other activities in a program called “MAN UP,” which includes lessons in self-improvement, empowerment and responsibility.

According to Principal Shawn Ashworth, the program is an effort to address the relatively high rate of discipline referrals among black male students, and to boost their scores on Maryland State Assessment tests. She said it is not a racially exclusive group.

But parents said that while they believe Ashworth is well intentioned, the group has only increased racial tensions at the school because white students are feeling left out. Parents have issued complaints to Ashworth and the Board of Education, as well as the Anne Arundel County Office of Equity and Human Relations.

“You can’t have a program that’s race based,” said Tracy Mathews, whose daughter attends seventh grade at the school. “It has to be need based.”

Mathews was so concerned about the program that she testified against it before the school board Wednesday.

Ashworth, who is black, said in an email to Patch that the program has always been open to everyone.

“The program never excluded students, it just focused on [African-Amercan] students—students in the achievement gap as well as with the highest number of referrals,” she said.

In addition to the seminars, about 10 students have also had group meetings with the Men of Character student group at . An all-day MAN UP conference is tentatively scheduled for April 27.

Mathews and other parents have contended that Ashworth only advertised the seminars and meetings as being open to every student once parents raised concerns. Mathews said students of other races only learned about the program when some black classmates were being removed from classes. The group is not advertised in the school newsletters and meetings are not promoted on the school’s public address system, they said.

"I was outraged when I heard about it, but thought maybe it wasn't real," said Michele Rafsky, a parent of a seventh-grade boy at Arundel Middle.

Rafksy and other parents said feelings of jealousy flared earlier this year when some black students bragged about their participation.

“I further learned that the some of the children in this group are ‘rubbing it’ in the faces of the other children that cannot belong, [and] that they are having treats like Cinnabons and muffins/doughnuts etc.” said Jen Gruber, the parent of two Arundel Middle School students, in an email.

The program gained relevance this year after the local chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint against Anne Arundel County Public Schools for a high rate of discipline referrals among African-American students. The U.S. Department of Education said last week it would investigate the complaint.

Ashworth wrote a letter to parents last month outlining the purpose of the group and insisting it was open to all, though she acknowledged it was focused on the unique needs of African-American boys.

“The MAN UP seminars are open to all students at Arundel Middle School,” Ashworth wrote. “They have been designed by our school counselors to support, encourage, and empower young males, especially African-American males, to reach their full potential academically, vocationally, economically, socially, and personally.”

In an email to Patch, she said she did not believe the program was divisive.

“Actually, because of the program the number of referrals for students as a whole, and specifically for African American students, has decreased,” she said.

The online search of the  term "Man Up" shows that it is often used in programs to encourage students, and many of those programs are geared toward African-Americans.

The historically black Howard University, for instance, has a "Man Up" club to encourage the graduation of male students in its communications school.

FOX News anchor Kelly Wright also founded a mentoring group for young people in Hagerstown called Man Up!

Ashworth said the school still hopes to hold an all-day conference with three speakers from the community on April 27. The conference will feature sessions on the important of education, fiscal responsibility and being a role model.

radarradar May 02, 2012 at 07:34 PM
@I know everything (Posted this to 'Try Harder' by mistake. This is meant for you, you idiot) Your rant above may just be most blatantly stupid and racist thing I have seen on this entire thread. Are you SO dimwitted as to stereotype white teachers with such trash? To label these dedicated, hardworking educators the way you just did says SO much more about you than anything else. I see nothing more than weak minded paranoia. I was waiting for your true colors (No pun intended) to come through, and they certainly did. The white man' holding us down. 'White manipulation'. 'Powerful white leaders'. Jeeze. It certainly sounds racist to me. I'd love to get a hold of some of your reading material. Probably a good read. By the way, it's 'Pray' in this case, not Prey', 'Sure', not 'shore' (Don't know WHERE you were going with that one). You don't really count in this conversation anymore. You have revealed yourself to be totally irrelevant.
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I was told that it was a joke for the girls. Hastily put together with no real thought to the content. Just like the 'last minute' feel of the 8th grade promotion event. A quickly thrown together announcement. Could it have been only to placate the School Superintendent, who must've been FURIOUS to hear of the programs cast aside by Dr. Ashworth over the past couple of years. It must've been quite embarrassing to be given this information for the first time from a concerned citizen who had the courage to speak the truth (Being truthful, what a novel concept) at a BOE meeting (I wonder who in the chain of command covered up the complaints so that they never got to Mr. Maxwell? I have my suspicions).
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 08:09 PM
@Bill Wow, You are stunningly slow. Or just blind. Or cannot read. Mentors actually taking part in these meetings have not only stated that is was an exclusive group, but have stated WHY it was a closed group. So, with that said, are YOU one of those people who have nothing better to do than make unfounded accusations?
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 08:10 PM
@Mom4kids Very well stated.
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 08:18 PM
@Bill 'Make up screen names'? Please give us your full name. Of all the people "lying" on this thread, you seem to be the only one without ANY facts to back up your feeble argument. You just get in the discussion very late in the game, spout off and just tiptoe away. Useless. 'Envious'? Really? Believe it or not, there are real parents here who have legitimate concerns with the school their kids attend. You? Who knows. A relative? A minion sent out to muddy the waters, distract from the issue at hand? I suspect the latter.
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 08:35 PM
@Reggi N. Impressive. You post is ignorant on SEVERAL levels. Not the least of which is that the meetings STILL haven't been opened. Can you even read? The ONLY thing that was 'opened' was this ridiculous, one-time-only Man Up joke of a 'Conference', created only to confuse the issue at hand (And possibly as a deserate attempt by the good Doctor to get the Superintendent off her back)...that the group was and still IS illegal. 'Coerced'? Yeah, you know, I'm sure that HUNDREDS of white kids are being coerced by their parents to join this illegal group. You know, the CLOSED to all except black kids group? You don't really seem bright enough to grasp words like 'illegality' or the term 'civil rights violation'. And how can all these white kids 'continue' to attend meetings when they haven't been invited in the first place. I'd go on, but I wouldn't want to confuse you with big words.
radarradar May 02, 2012 at 08:58 PM
@Reggi N. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. You sound bitter, you know, like 'the man' has been keeping you down. Like a guy who only wants laws enforced that YOU feel need to be enforced. Maybe, just maybe, you turned out to be an awful adult because of your miserable upbringing, And, realizing that the 'nut doesn't fall far from the tree', wants to help kids, even though this way of going about it is completely illegal. Or maybe you do not want to face the fact that good parenting equals well behaved kids, and we as a society would much rather blame evil 'white people' instead of maybe, I don't know, teaching parents to be parents. Too bad. Now, go drink yourself to bed after yelling at the evil white images on your TV.And of yeah, we actually have a black President. Interesting. You should consider the fact that at least 12 or 13 evil white people must have voted for him, as the US is about 12% black. You are a special, special person.
Brian C. May 03, 2012 at 12:18 PM
@radarradar why do you expect anybody to use their real name? You sure dont. The other thing is I am not sure what you are calling facts are facts. How do you know that Dr. Ashworth is lying unless you were there to witness the actual conversation. In another article the Dr. says that the group is open to every one but has a specific focus. Is it possible that because this group has a specific focus that the young folks have assumed that it is an exclusive group? I dont doubt that Mom4kids's child told her what they did, but they could be wrong. You seem to not be open to anything but that the Dr. is lying to everyone. Is this group any different that women's focus groups that are sponsored by the schools to assist our young female students? To exclude based on race,religion,sex, or national origin is wrong no matter what. But lets make sure "WE" have "ALL" the facts before we start to condemn a program that may be helping.
The Truth May 03, 2012 at 12:28 PM
@ Brian C That is one of the most sensible comments I have read in this thread.
Concerned May 03, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Did you ask what percentage referrals were down for Hispanic boys or white boys ?
Concerned May 03, 2012 at 08:22 PM
@ Reggi N, you just restated that the group was started to" help minority students", but the good Dr. Ashworth continues to deny that. Also it was not to help "minority students" , it was specificly to help African American students. There are several other minorities represented at Arundel Middle School that were also excluded along with the caucasion students.
Concerned June 01, 2012 at 03:26 AM
The next Man-up seminar is scheduled for June 1, starting shortly after homeroom. ALL male students are being sent.
Schooler June 01, 2012 at 03:42 AM
It is for ALL MALES! What about the girls? Doesn't Anne Arundel County Public Schools receive Title IX funding that prohibits the exclusion of students from activities based on gender? So we have moved from a racial issue to a gender issue. What is with this principal? She just doesn't get it. Also, why have MAN-UP the last full week of school. Students are all taking their county benchmarks and one of the 8th grade teachers is giving her Algebra HSA tests tomorrow. Fridays always have a long Advisory until 8:25, but the Admin memo said MAN-UP would go until 8:45, which means 8:55 until teaching resumes because of transitioning. So what are the teachers suppose to do with a class full of girls from 8 a.m. to 8:55? What is this principal thinking?
Schooler June 01, 2012 at 03:52 AM
You are correct Concerned. There are pictures from previous meetings of all AA boys. Since the media has taken hold of this, new pictures have been taken with all races represented and all genders at the April 27 MAN-UP. That was a one-time event only. MAN-UP has been for AA males only for 2-years. Teachers will tell you that guidance counselors actually came into their class rooms and got the AA males out of the class room if they didn't show up. Talk to teachers who have homerooms and ask them who went to the MAN-UP meetings prior to when the media got hold of this. Ask the teachers who was allowed to go and who wasn't. For 2-years this exclusionary program has existed and the Superintendent has allowed it to continue. The blame should go farther then Dr. Ashworth. Riva Road should share some of this.
Trudi June 21, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Just read in the paper that a new Principal will be at Arundel Middle next year! http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/schools/new-principals-going-to-schools/article_2b4f5287-982b-5a0b-b182-71bbc0086052.html
Concerned June 29, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Now she will be at the board, making decisions that affect students through out the school system instead of just one school. How " straight forward" do you think she will be in this position ?
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 04:15 PM
@I Know Everything; I know that it's been quite some time since I have posted anything to this thread, but I just had to reply to this 'gem' of a post. For the love of God, I hope that your illiterate posting is not a result of an Anne Arundel County School System education? If so, I should take my kids out IMMEDIATELY and enroll them at the School of the Incarnation...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Congratulations! You are the winner of the 'Most Nonsensical Statement' Award...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 05:51 PM
@Brian C Now you are just being an idiot. YOUR quote "If you dont know maybe you should attend ManUp..... :-)". Do you (or CAN you) read? Each and every time a parent attempted to attend one of the meetings, it was magically cancelled. Do you choose to just read every three or four posts and then rant? Your posts are simply useless...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Well said.
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:02 PM
My kid chose to stay home. I guarantee that she got more out of staying at home watching reruns on television then she would've having stayed for this stupid, hackneyed patchwork waste of a program...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I'm sorry to say that the liberal mainstream media would do NOTHING with this story. The unfortunate truth is that the mainstream media (and I had to deal with them quite often over the years) actually think that African Americans need some sort of extra 'help'...which to me is one one the most racist things I can think of...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Just more predictable coverage by liberal media types...no surprise...because the good doctor is black, she is taken at her word. So as not to 'insult' her standing as a 'powerful black woman', they don't DARE actually do any digging around for the truth. Just demonize those 'awful' white people attempting to ''keep the black man down'...pathetic...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:11 PM
@ Bill You are simply either an uninformed idiot, or one of the good doctor's lackeys...
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:12 PM
And congrats on your kid's straight A's...
Arundel Parent 2018 July 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I read that the new assistant principal (Mr. Carlson) is coming from Arundel High School but he is not listed on their website. My neighbor (parent of high school child) told me that he was sent to the board last year and was not in the school most of the year. Is this true?
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
@ Tracy Simply put, you win, and the good doctor loses. Good job!
radarradar July 03, 2012 at 06:25 PM
@ Concerned Yes, we should ALL be concerned. It now looks like rather than just hiding the good doctor in a place within the AA BOE maze where she would do the least harm (as it should be for those who royally screw up), she will unfortunately be put in a position where she will be able to spread her obviously racist beliefs throughout the entire school system, rather than just poisoning a single school, much like the Equity Assurance Person. It must be nice to sue your way to a cushy, do-nothing job...
Concerned July 08, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Arundel parent 2018, yes it is true that he was not at AHS for a period of time, don,t know exactly where he was.
Margo E. Wilkins July 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM
This program probably focuses on Black male students because they are the ones who are failing the most in school.


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