In New Jersey, however, leaders show how to raise the Black completion rate.
It’s educational déjà vu, with a twist. The newest Schott Foundation for Public Education study spotlights the abysmal Black male graduation rate of 47 percent in 2007-2008, then provides the traditional solution — that public, private and non-profit experts must unite to fix the schools.
But the study becomes more relevant when it shows how graduation rates improve when the above formula is actually applied. Due to the settlement of the Abbott v. Burke suit, lodged on behalf of 300,000 school-aged children by the Education Law Center, the state of New Jersey increased its per student funding. That lead to students receiving more hours of education daily, on weekends and in the summer.
Newark schools now graduate 75 percent of their Black males at nearly the same rate of 78 percent of white males nationally.
In its recent study, Schott, a non-profit dedicated to achieving a “fully resourced high quality pre-K through 12th grade public education,” reports that 53 percent of Black males did not graduate with their high school classmates in 2007-2008.
The report also notes that if “equitable resources are available,” then the rates will rise. In New Jersey, under its Abbott plan, more than 65 percent of Black males graduate from high school. It is the only state with a significant Black population that graduates that many African-American males.
Schott recommends that leaders of federal, state and local governments, parents, faith partners, community organizers, and advocates work to institutionalize the comprehensive plans and policies that are needed to graduate more Black males.
But these vast, complicated plans and policies are not examined in detail.
Schott Foundation CEO and president, John H. Jackson, says, “We must focus on systemic change to provide all our children the opportunity to learn.”
This is well and good if the aforementioned policy makers actually have the will, money, time, interest and ability to hammer out changes to make a difference. Or perhaps tough lawyers with a winning case that will force the adults to do the right thing for children.
Download the complete study: Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males. It includes state-by-state data that shows which U.S. school districts and states do not provide the resources that Black males and other students need to learn.
(Photo: Kevin Clark/Getty Images)