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DC Public School Chancellor: Baltimore Riots Wouldn’t Have Happened If Kids Were In School

The head of D.C.’s public school system, Kaya Henderson, said Mayor Muriel Bowser’s new plan to empower young men of color will help the city avoid a “Baltimore Scenario.”

While testifying in front of city council Tuesday, the chancellor recalled turning on the television Monday night for the first time and seeing videos of the riots happening in Baltimore. It was the first time she heard about the riots, she said. (SLIDESHOW: Is This America? Stunning Photos From The Violent, Fiery Baltimore Riots)

“The first image I saw was people jumping up and down on the hood of a car, and I remember thinking, ‘A lot of those people are wearing Khaki pants,'” Henderson said.

She said the only people who wear khaki pants are kids in school, and the only reason the violence erupted is because those kids weren’t in school.

“If you think that can’t happen in D.C. tomorrow, you’re wrong,” she said. (VIDEO: Baltimore Mom Catches Her Son Rioting, Beats His A** In Front Of Everyone)

Her solution to the problem is the plan in Mayor Bowser’s proposed 2016 budget that would see an additional $20 million added to fund the D.C. Boys and Men of Color Initiative.

That initiative will target black and Latino boys in D.C. and, among other things, provide paid internships to 100 boys who participated in the mayor’s “‘The Audacity of Hope’ Book Challenge.”

That challenge consisted of the boys reading President Barack Obama’s book over their Christmas break and then using what they learned to offer the mayor policy suggestions on how they can improve their communities. One of those suggestions was to give all 100 of them paid internships.

In addition to the internships, the initiative will work with the community to provide mentors for boys in the city, award additional funds to schools that improve the academic success of boys of color and open a new all-male high school for those boys.

Justin Constantino, general council in the city’s Office of Budget and Finance said DCPS is planning on going after private funds for the initiative, so it doesn’t know exactly how much taxpayers will spend on it. Its expectation is to start providing “Proving What’s Possible” grants during the 2015-16 school year.

“DCPS is estimating that they’ll spend about $10 million on that work,” he said. “The startup costs for the high school should be about $2 million and the cost of the school itself will be $5-$7 million in the first year. The remaining funds will support the tutoring effort.”

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