The Achievement Gap with Black Boys: Who is responsible

The Schott Foundation for Public Education has stated that the graduation rate for Black males is 47%. In cities like New York, the rate is 25%. New Jersey graduates nearly 70% of their black males. The city of Newark has the highest graduation rate of 76%. The data suggests that programs like the Abbott Plan which registers disadvantaged kids in Preschool Program may hold the key to increasing graduation rates. Early childhood education is always a good idea. Children in school learning academic concepts as opposed to being at home and watching soap operas or music videos — it’s a no brainer.

Can you have systemic change if the change is not ocurring in the home? Can we have high graduation rates and low incarceration rates if we don’t change the dynamics within our families. Educators must always strive to give every child their best. But we all know that our best goes a lot further in the fertile soil of a supportive family life.

According to Celeste Fremon & Stephanie Refrow Hamilton, by fourth grade many African American boys are falling behind in the classroom. Most authors such as Fremon and Hamilton attribute this to racism. Asians have experienced racisim as well. Yet education is a focus in the home and the children tend to do well in academic settings around the world. Jews have suffered discrimination in the school systems and have managed to thrive and flourish in spite of it.

Janice Shaw Crouse asserts that poverty and single parent families are the cause of drop out among Black males. Crouse also claims that  same sex marriage contributes to young males not graduating from high school. Poor children in single parent households constitute almost two-thirds of all poor children. She states that poverty and poor schools are to blame. I challenge these claims.

Hemann Gmeiner M.D.  founded SOS Children’s Village in 1949 in Austria. He brought together children who lost their families, homes and security as a result of World War II with widows who had lost their husbands.  SOS children’s village exist in 132 countries. Single parents (women) create loving homes with orphans by creating a village of support based on trust and accountability. African Americans can create these same kinds of communities among themselves.

Teachers and educators play a crucial role in the education of all youngsters. I don’t deny that racism and discrimination exist. There is a shift in teaching at the third grade level cites Harry Morgan, a professor at the State University of West Georgia. Instead of  learning to read children are reading to learn. A concerned and involved parent can turn the tide of any misconceptions individual educators may have about her/his child. All too often parents hold these same misconceptions, focusing on their child’s athletic abilities or singing and dancing talent and sacrificing their intellectual abilities.

Children live up to the expectations of  the adults in their lives. Research shows that the primary reason that children will strive to succeed in school is to impress their parents. Research also shows that one of the highest indicators of academic success is the family having dinner together. Two things that are well within any parents control.

When parents, teachers and the community start having high expectations for African American males, we will see high achievement among African American males. When we start holding ourselves accountable for encouraging our boys to use their minds as well as their muscles, we will see less boys in prison and more boys in college. It takes a village but it starts with loving parents.

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