Yale’s Comer named to Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans

School Development Program founder and Yale Child Study Center professor Dr. James P. Comer has been appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

This commission is charged with strengthening the nation by ensuring that all African Americans receive an education that prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives. This mission is part of the Obama administration’s broader mandate to restore the country to its role as the global leader in education. Comer and 14 other members will advise the U.S. president and the secretary of education on ways to advance federal programs that improve educational opportunities for African Americans, increase participation of the African-American community in federal agency programs, and engage stakeholders in a national dialogue on the mission.

“I am honored that President Obama has appointed me to the Advisory Commission,” said Comer, the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center. “It was my belief 50 years ago that the focus of research and intervention in African-American education should be on excellence and potentials more than deficit; and should use a holistic and public health approach. This led to my desire to improve schools and education, especially for children who have been closed out of the social and economic mainstream. I look forward to collaborating with commission chair Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III and other commission members to provide the President and Secretary Duncan with our collective knowledge, wisdom, and experience.”

Comer first joined the Yale faculty and founded the Comer School Development Program in 1968. The program is designed to improve scholastic performance of children from lower-income and ethnic minority backgrounds in particular. In 2006, Comer chaired the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Roundtable on Child and Adolescent Development Research and Teacher Education. He served as a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Commission on the Whole Child in 2006.

He has received many awards for his work, including the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, The University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Education, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, and 48 honorary degrees.

Comer was also recently honored by the Teachers College of Columbia University at their 125th Anniversary Celebration for his work in psychosocial development as a key factor in children’s educational success.