By MARILYN ANDERSON RHAMES
Christopher Goins is the founding principal of Butler College Prep, a four-year-old charter high school on the far South Side of Chicago with a student population that is 95 percent low-income and Black.
Much like Goins, who is a bold and snazzy dresser, Butler stands out. Though surrounded by the blighted blocks of the Pullman community, Butler has fast become a model of what urban education should look like, particularly for African-American boys.
“I know Black kids,” Goins said. “I do.”
Last August, Chicago Magazine rated Butler the best charter high school in the city. The year before that, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools recognized Noble-Butler as the state’s highest-performing charter school for academic growth among African-American students. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) currently gives Butler the highest rating it can offer, a Level 1+. And though Butler is among 17 other schools in the city run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools, it is arguably the most culturally responsive to its community, as more than half of the staff are people of color.
Goins and I recently sat for a candid conversation specifically about how to best educate African-American boys. And he has some pointed advice for White school leaders—even those within his own Noble Network.