Friday, November 12, 2010

The Black Male Education Disaster

The following story is from the New York Times. I have added my comments below:

Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected

An achievement gap separating black from white students has long been documented — a social divide extremely vexing to policy makers and the target of one blast of school reform after another.

But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known.

Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

This is a complete and utter disaster. What is holding black America back is this lack of education and the black community needs to tackle this like the disaster that it is. It is time for us to abandon the usual "reasons" and "excuses" and actually work together to get to the bottom of this and get this resolved. Instead of spending millions protesting racism and shaking down business, Jesse Jackson and the other so-called black leaders need to get together and actually work together to improve this situation. I can't see anything more urgent and important.

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

Yes, the problem in part is cultural. We have more and more black children being raised by the government. There is no father in the house and the mother is working all of the time. In fact today, 70 percent of black children are being born to single mothers. This situation makes the child more likely to do poorly in school, drop out early and get involved with gangs and drugs.

The data was distilled from highly respected national math and reading tests, known as the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which are given to students in fourth and eighth grades, most recently in 2009. The report, “A Call for Change,” is to be released Tuesday by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools.

Although the outlines of the problem and many specifics have been previously reported, the group hopes that including so much of what it calls “jaw-dropping data” in one place will spark a new sense of national urgency.

“What this clearly shows is that black males who are not eligible for free and reduced-price lunch are doing no better than white males who are poor,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the council.

Because in the black community, there is an expression called "acting white." Children who are achievers, who work hard are often said to be "acting white," implying that high academic achievement is not a genuinely "black" trait. This acts to discourage children from getting good grades.

The report shows that black boys on average fall behind from their earliest years. Black mothers have a higher infant mortality rate and black children are twice as likely as whites to live in a home where no parent has a job. In high school, African-American boys drop out at nearly twice the rate of white boys, and their SAT scores are on average 104 points lower.

The analysis of results on the national tests found that math scores in 2009 for black boys were not much different than those for black girls in Grades 4 and 8, but black boys lagged behind Hispanics of both sexes, and they fell behind white boys by at least 30 points, a gap sometimes interpreted as three academic grades.

Besides the cultural issues discussed earlier, we need to actually allow black children to escape these horrible inner city schools and get into schools where they are educated. These same children, who are failing in public schools, are much more likely to succeed in private schools. And they must and should have this option, something that the leftists hate to discuss.

The search for explanations has recently looked at causes besides poverty, and this report may further spur those efforts.

“There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”

Those include “conversations about early childhood parenting practices,” Dr. Ferguson said. “The activities that parents conduct with their 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. How much we talk to them, the ways we talk to them, the ways we enforce discipline, the ways we encourage them to think and develop a sense of autonomy.”

No. It doesn't have anything to do with how much children are talked to. It has everything to do with whether they are being taught by competent teachers teaching in a good school. It has everything to do with whether they come from a family with two parents. That is what makes the difference. What never ceases to amaze me about liberals is they can go on and on about the evils of voucher programs, yet the liberal elitists don't send THEIR children to public schools. Why is that? If the schools are so good, why don't they send their children to them. It is the absolute height of hypocrisy.
 The report urges convening a White House conference, encouraging Congress to appropriate more money for schools and establishing networks of black mentors.

What it does not discuss are policy responses identified with a robust school reform movement that emphasizes closing failing schools, offering charter schools as alternatives and raising the quality of teachers.

In other words, in typical leftist fashion, they can identify the problem, but they can't actually face the solution. This whole idea of increasing funding for the schools is frankly, a bunch of BS. China spends less per pupil than we do and their children, along with the children of many other countries which spend less money per pupil than we do, score higher on standardized tests. So that isn't the problem. Things are actually so bad today, that the level of literacy in the African American community today, is lower than it was during the era of Jim Crow.

The report did not go down this road because “there’s not a lot of research to indicate that many of those strategies produce better results,” Mr. Casserly said.

This conclusion is absolutely ridiculous and I am the living proof of it. My parents who I love and adore, struggled for years to send me to private school. I never went to a public school and today I have a great job in the IT field, working in the entertainment industry. There is NO way I would be where I am today, if I had gotten the substandard, shoddy education that so many young black men get.

Other have a different response. The key to narrowing the achievement gap, said Dr. Ferguson, is “really good teaching.”

One large urban school district that has made progress is Baltimore’s, where the dropout rate for African-American boys declined to 4.9 percent during the last academic year, down from 11.9 percent four years earlier. Graduation rates for black boys were also up: 57 percent in 2009-10, compared with 51 percent three years earlier.

Andres A. Alonso, the chief executive of the Baltimore City Public Schools, said the improvement had little to do with changes at the margins, like lengthening the school day or adding mentors. Rather, Mr. Alonso cited aggressively closing failing schools, knocking on the doors of dropouts’ homes to lure them back and creating real-time alerts — “almost like an electrical charge” — when a student misses several days of school.

“Hispanic kids and African-American kids this year had a lower dropout rate than white kids,” Mr. Alonso said.
This is a good start, but much, much more needs to be done. Like how about linking the money to the student instead of the school. Let the child go to ANY school he wants to, private, public or charter. The pressure of the free market will force the schools to improve. The teachers who are good at what they do will get more money, because the competition between good schools will increase the demand for good teachers. And the bad teachers will find themselves without a job. And the children will actually get educated. And again, I don't care about the excuses. The excuses are simply excuses. What we need are actual, workable solutions like school choice, not more excuses.

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