For Obama, 'My Brother's Keeper' Initiative Is Personal

The White House's latest effort aims to help young men of color succeed in school and at work.

President Barack Obama speaks as young men who participate in the 'Becoming A Man' program in Chicago watch him during an event in the East Room of the White House February 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama signed an executive memorandum following remarks on the My Brother's Keeper initiative.  (National Journal)

Here's a roundup of the education articles that caught Next America's eye from Feb. 24 to Mar. 3. All address trends that particularly affect minority students.

Obama: "When I was their age, I was a lot like them." President Obama's new initiative aimed at helping young, minority men is small in scale: a $200 million philanthropic commitment from the private sector, plus an interagency task force. But Obama's speech launching the initiative was one of the most passionate and personal he's made in a while. The president noted that demographic shifts have made helping young minority men more important than ever. "This is a moral issue for our country," Obama said. "It's also an economic issue for our country. After all, these boys are a growing segment of our population. They are our future workforce." New York Times

The Statistics That Explain Why Young, Minority Men Lag Behind. ThinkProgress, a policy blog at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, breaks down the odds stacked against the young African-American and Hispanic men President Obama's initiative hopes to serve. The barriers begin with lower levels of early childhood education and end with high adult unemployment rates. Gaps in income and wealth between white and black Americans have been rising for 40 years. ThinkProgress

With Lower Aspirations, White Men Go Further In Community College. White male students at two-year colleges are less engaged in the classroom than their black and Latino peers. Yet 32 percent of white, male community college students go on to earn a degree or certificate within three years, compared to just 5 percent of black and Latino male community college students, according to a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas. The report criticized administrators for steering academically weak minority students into programs focused on addressing weaknesses, rather than on tapping into students' strengths. The Chronicle of Higher Education

College Supply Matters, Too. Demand for higher education needs to be met with enough supply — in the form of adequately funded seats at colleges and universities, according to columnist Eduardo Porter. A 2006 study from John Bound of the University of Michigan and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia found that when states had a large college-age population, public spending per student fell and so did graduation rates. Other researchers have found that the wage premium associated with a college degree rises when state institutions charge more in tuition and enroll fewer students. New York Times

Americans and business leaders weigh in on skills and immigration. Just over half of Americans would favor a policy that would issue green cards to international students who graduate from U.S. college or university, according to a Gallup survey conducted on the behalf of the Lumina Foundation and released last week. Thirty-four percent of the over 1,000 people surveyed in English-language phone interviews said family ties to U.S. citizens should be the highest priority in immigration policy decisions; 29 percent said work skills should take precedence. In a separate survey, 42 percent of about 600 business leaders chose work skills. Gallup