Monday, September 13, 2010

Black Male Graduation Rates & Hope for the Future

Photo Credit:
Seattle Municipal Archives
A new study from the Schott Foundation for Public Education paints a disturbing picture on recent graduation rates for young black males.  According to the research, less than half (47%) of black males that started high school in 2003 had obtained a diploma in 2008.

NPR picks up the story:
"John Jackson, the foundation's president and CEO, tells NPR's Guy Raz that those numbers are dismal largely because of the lack of resources in schools with high black populations. He says that when young black men are given opportunities to learn in schools with more resources, they perform well.

Detroit had one of the worst black male graduation rates for any city: 27 percent. But the graduation rate for young white men was even worse, at 19 percent. Jackson says those numbers prove that a lack of resources affects everyone — not just one racial group. "What makes it a race and ethnicity issue is that more black males are in poorly resourced schools and have less access to the types of resources needed to learn," Jackson says.

There's hope in the story of New Jersey. In 2003, black male students there were graduating at a rate of 48 percent. Just five years later, that rate had soared to 75 percent. Jackson attributes New Jersey's turnaround to the changes made because of a court case, Abbott v. Burke. Parents sued, and a judge found that the state spent less in schools with two-thirds African-American enrollment. He ordered the state to spend the same across the board.

Jackson says the state decided to fund areas that education experts have shown to be effective, such as early childhood education and hiring high-quality teachers. "And in there, we know there is a need for extended-day learning," Jackson says, "perhaps even year-round schooling for those who are behind to recover."

Unless other states follow the lead of New Jersey, Jackson says, the new study is a harbinger of worse things to come. He says low graduation rates are connected to high unemployment and incarceration rates among black men. Black males make up 40 percent of the U.S. prison population, he says, but only 6 percent of the country's overall population.

"So our country, economically, is paying on two ends," Jackson says. "The consequences are across the board."
Quite simply, if young children are not afforded fair opportunities in order to receive a quality education, there is little that bodes well for their future. If they are given access to resources and enjoy broad parental and teacher involvement, their chances for success increase dramatically.  School districts and places of worship must invest in the younger generation if we are to have hope for a better future.

(h/t to Racialicious for the link)

1 comment:

J. Hill said...

That is a sad, sad, commentary on the state of education in urban areas. I fear that this may be a lost generation. There are studies that show a clear correspondence between the absence of a High School Diploma and going to Jail. If we lose a whole generation how can we recover? There are numerous factors that play a role in the lack of black male grads...resources is just a part of that.