Yes We Can—But When?
A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows that the majority of U.S. states and districts fail to provide the resources necessary to support the achievement of their black male students. Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education points to the best- and worst-performing states and districts on the basis of their black male students' high school graduation rates.
According to the report,
- 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).
- The districts with black male student enrollment exceeding 10,000 that have highest graduation rates for black male students are Newark, New Jersey (76 percent); Fort Bend, Texas (68 percent); Baltimore County, Maryland (67 percent); and Montgomery County, Maryland (65 percent).
- Some states with small populations—such as Maine, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Vermont—have graduation rates for black males that are higher than the national average for white males.
- The five worst-performing districts with large black male student enrollment (exceeding 40,000) are New York City (28 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (28 percent); Detroit, Michigan (27 percent); Broward County, Florida (39 percent); and Dade County, Florida (27 percent).
The authors of the report point out that the achievement of black male students is not low across the board. They write,
The data in this report … consistently illustrate that black male students in good schools do well. … As Linda Darling-Hammond has noted, schools and districts that have the highest percentages of disadvantaged students tend to have the least access to the resources needed for all students to succeed. Thus, white males in schools and districts with large percentages of black male students are also likely to experience poor outcomes because of systemic decisions not to commit resources to those districts and schools. (p. 6)
States like New Jersey—and districts like Maryland's Montgomery County—have made progress in their area. They remain outliers, however. The report warns that if current trends continue, by 2020 the gap between black and white male graduation rates in the United States will increase slightly—from 28 to 29 percent.
To download a copy of the report, go to
In Romania, providing a group of low-income students with computers didn't close achievement gaps, according to a recent study conducted by Ofer Malamud, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago. In fact, it widened the gap between the students and their more privileged peers. The students performed significantly worse in math, English, and Romanian compared with students who had not received computers. Instead of using the computers for homework and research, the students used them daily for playing games. This study calls into question the notion that providing underprivileged children with computers will automatically raise their academic achievement. The study, "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," will appear in The Quarterly Journal of Economics in early 2011.
- Learning in a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Societyby Carola Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco, and Irina Todorova (Harvard University Press, 2008).
Immigrant children are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and these children typically depend on schooling as their first sustained, meaningful introduction to U.S. society. This book reports on the findings of a large-scale, longitudinal study of more than 300 recently arrived immigrant students from Central America, China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico. Through stories of individual students and their schools, the authors provide insight into the obstacles and opportunities young immigrants encounter.
"All the hopes that the United States has always represented for prosperity, political freedom, and a future that is better than the past continue to be at the heart of each and every immigrant journey. (p. 377)"
- Quality Education as a Constitutional Rightby Theresa Perry, Robert P. Moses, Joan T. Wynne, Ernesto Cortes Jr., Lisa Delpit, et al. (Beacon Press, 2010).
In March 2009, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. proposed a resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee high-quality education. Those supporting this amendment—including civil rights leader and education activist Bob Moses—were claiming the more than 200-year-old African American tradition of "seeing education as inextricably linked to freedom and citizenship." The essays in this book trace the history of African Americans' fights for access to public education and explore how the intensified fights for high-quality education can be waged at the local, state, and federal levels. They include personal stories written by effective educators of African American and low-income children.
"That our Constitution exists implies a right to an education; why guarantee a set of rights and liberties unless you presuppose that citizens will be sufficiently well-educated to understand them? (p. 103)"
How to Teach Diverse Kids
You're a teacher in an ethnically diverse 1st grade classroom. How do you sort readers without creating groups segregated by race?
The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (www.tolerance.org/tdsi), created by Teaching Tolerance, can help. This online professional development tool supports culturally relevant, equitable instruction. The website features a discussion forum that lets teachers explore and discuss thorny issues associated with teaching learners of widely different backgrounds and achievement levels. As they work through various case studies, they share reactions and solutions.
Other resources for teaching diverse students available from Teaching Tolerance include
- Understanding the Influence of Race, which helps educators assess their own dispositions related to students' backgrounds and examine how beliefs about race and ethnicity may influence teaching and learning.
- The Teaching Diverse Students School Survey, which helps administrators assess how well their schools support learning for all students and provides resources for improving less-than-equitable conditions.
"The dramatically resurgent segregation of our public schools is the dirty little secret of urban education that President Obama has not dared to challenge in forthright and compelling terms."
—Jonathan Kozol, p. 28