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Corey Blay, NLC NYC Class of 2009, and the achievement gap in Harlem

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on July 03, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Read more from Corey Blay, NLC NYC 2009 Fellow, on The Washington Post. 

 corey_blay.jpgWorking to fix the achievement gap and help young men of color go on to higher education, Corey Blay currently works at Brotherhood Prep, New York University and is a MBA/MPA candidate at NYU. Corey's unique background as the youngest faculty member of an elite private school allowed him to see first hand the racial divide in our top private schools. Recently Corey tackled the problem of the growing achievement gap in Harlem.

Harlem’s boys need better schools. So I decided to build a private one.

When I joined the faculty of an elite private school in New York City at 23, I became its youngest teacher. I also became the only black male educator in its Upper School. Shortly after being hired, my department chair said something that resonates with me to this day. As we walked across the lush green lawns of the picturesque campus, he turned to me and asked, “you know you are joining a racist institution, right?”

Having attended predominately white private schools from elementary through college, I thought I knew what he meant. But by my second year, I struggled to grasp how only two of the 60 students I taught were boys of color. After my fifth year, a third of the boys of color in eighth grade were either asked to leave or taken out of the school by their families. Fifty-six percent of the black and Latino boys left the next year.

It hit me — we had a serious problem.

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