Initiative Aims to Close Education Gap for Blacks

The goal of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence is to close the educational and economic achievement gap for African-American students.

Posted: 07/26/2012 01:00 PM EDT

African-Americans inarguably have one of the nation's highest unemployment rates. Some of it may be attributed to a weakened economy and, if one is being honest, in more than a few instances, racial discrimination. But the most critical factor is likely an inadequate level of education and training.  President Obama today signed an executive order to establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans that aims to close the education achievement gap for African-American students and ensure that they have greater access "to a complete and competitive education from the time they're born all through the time they get a career."

The program will operate within the U.S. Department of Education and work with the president's office and other federal agencies "to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African-American students' achievement in school and college, and to develop a national network of individuals, organizations and communities that will share and implement these practices," a senior administration official told BET.com.

Although the high school dropout rate for Blacks has declined significantly from 13.2 percent in 1990 to 8 percent in 2010, it is an indisputable fact that the more a person learns, the more he or she will earn. The administration believes that improving their educational outcomes also will increase college completion and employment rates and economic mobility.

The executive order also creates a President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans to advise the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on such issues as "the development, implementation and coordination of resources aimed at improving educational opportunities and outcomes for African-Americans of all ages," the official said. In addition, it will engage philanthropic, business, nonprofit and other groups in a national conversation about Black student achievement.



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