This alarming quandary is being described as a national education crisis - and that’s not overstating the problem.
According to “Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education,” the overall 2007-2008 graduation rate for black males in the U.S. was only 47 percent, and half of the states have graduation rates for black male students below the national average.
The report highlights concerns that New York's graduation rate for its Regents diploma is only 25 percent for black male students.
New York City, the district with the nation's highest enrollment of black students, only graduates 28 percent of its black males with Regents diplomas on time. Overall, each year, more than 100,000 black male students in New York City do not graduate from high school.
That's an incomprehensible number, yet apparently true.
“Without targeted investments to provide the core, research-proven resources to help black male students succeed in public education,” the report concludes, “they are being set up to fail.”
The fourth report released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education provides state-by-state data that shows which U.S. school districts and states are failing to provide the resources black male students need for the opportunity to learn.
“Taken together, the numbers in the Schott Foundation for Public Education’s report form a nightmarish picture ― one that is all the more frightening for being both true and long-standing,” Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, said in a statement.
“These boys are failing, but I believe that it is the responsibility of the adults around them to turn these trajectories around,” Canada said. “All of us must ensure that we level the playing field for the hundreds of thousands of children who are at risk of continuing the cycle of generational poverty. The key to success is education.”
Some civil rights activists, like comedian Bill Cosby, have publicly blamed black parents for not preparing their sons to be productive citizens, and they’ve criticized black mothers and fathers for allowing school systems to raise their children.
"I don't know where we lost it or how we lost it, but people are not parenting," Cosby said last year during a speech in San Jose, California. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'"
Two years ago, President Barack Obama, who was seeking the office at the time, demanded that fathers, especially black men, shoulder the responsibility of healing broken families. Obama condemned absent fathers who have "abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men."
"You and I know how true this is in the African-American community," Obama said, outlining statistics showing that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households.
Such children are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison, he said.
"And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it," said Obama.
Meanwhile, the Schott Foundation report highlights the success of New Jersey’s Abbott plan, which demonstrates that when proper resources are available to all students, “systemic change at the state level can yield significant results.”
New Jersey, according to the report, is now the only state with a significant black population with a greater than 65 percent high school graduation rate for black male students.
Highlights of the report’s findings include:
• The five worst performing districts with large black male student enrollment (exceeding 40,000) are New York City, N.Y. (28 percent); Philadelphia, Pa. (28 percent); Detroit, Mich. (27 percent); Broward County, Fla. (39 percent); Dade County, Fla. (27 percent).
• The states with black male student enrollment exceeding 100,000 that have the highest graduation rates for black male students are New Jersey (69 percent), Maryland (55 percent), California (54 percent) and Pennsylvania (53 percent).
• Some states with small populations, such as Maine, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Vermont, have graduation rates for black males higher than the national average for White males.
• The districts with black male student enrollment exceeding 10,000 that have highest graduation rates for black male students are Newark, N.J. (76 percent); Fort Bend, Texas (68 percent); Baltimore County, Md. (67 percent) and Montgomery County, Md. (65 percent).
• The districts with the lowest graduation rates for black male students are Pinellas County, Fla. (21 percent); Palm Beach County, Fla. (22 percent); Duval County, Fla. (23 percent); Charleston County, S.C. (24 percent) and Buffalo, N.Y. (25 percent).
• Dade County, Fla.; Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Mich. also have notably low graduation rates for black male students — each at 27 percent.
“America and its states and communities will not thrive in the 21st century without providing all students — including black males — a fair and substantive opportunity to learn," said Dr. John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
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