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Report about racial achievement gap cites 'willful neglect' as part of the problem

By Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 19, 2012 10:19 PM

A new foundation report that tracks state-by-state data has concluded that the high school graduation rates of  Black and Latino males continue to lag significantly behind Whites. It calls the problem a result of "willful neglect" and argues that it imperils the country's global competitiveness.

The report, by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, found that among males, just 52 percent of Black and 58 percent of Latino 9th graders nationally graduate from high school four years later, compared to 78 percent of Whites.

Pennsylvania is among the states with large gaps in male graduation rates, according to the report: a 28-point gap between Whites and Blacks and a 26-point gap between Whites and Latinos. However, the state's graduation rates are above the national averages.

"Too many Black and Latino young boys and men are being pushed out and locked out of the U.S. education system or find themselves unable to compete in a 21st-century economy upon graduating," said John H. Jackson, president of the Schott Foundation.

Jackson called these numbers a result of "willful neglect, unequal resource allocation by federal, state and local entities, and the indifference of too many elected and community leaders."

The report says that Black and Latino males are systematically shut out of equal opportunity in education, from preschool to AP courses to postsecondary attainment -- and most often confined to under-resourced schools. .


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Comments (19)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2012 11:37 am

Yes I notice a lot of willful neglect in the lack of resources and opportunities in city versus suburban schools. But to be far there is a whole lot of willful neglect going on at the family level in the the inner city. Unfortunately teachers are blamed for that neglect.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 20, 2012 12:27 pm

I don't buy this blame the parents line any more than I buy the blame the teacher line. Personal responsibility is only one factor. The main problem that low income families have is poverty, unemployment, and incarceration. Fix that and this society would be transformed!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2012 3:45 pm

That would work. But in the meantime we vilify teachers fro the students inability to score well on tests designed to asses the learning of nice kids from suburban families.

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 20, 2012 5:49 pm

@tom-104: The main problem that low income families have is NOT poverty, unemployment, and incarceration. The main problem is that too many enablers use poverty, unemployment and incarceration as root causes for all the issues of the poor. These are outcomes, not causes.

The idea that minority students are locked out of educational opportunity is patently false.

We should stop doing so much explaining and justification for poor outcomes and failure, and start addressing the real problems in many minority families -- single parent households, long term dependence on drugs and government subsidies, a fundamental lack of focus on the importance of education, parents who put their interests before those of their children, school leaders whose constituents are union leaders and not students, teacher unions and their obstructive work rules, to name a few.

There are many inner city minority students who maneuver through this quagmire and become successful adults. In most cases, the students were focused on their futures, had a stable family environment (even if single parent) where education and doing the right thing were instilled in them, gained the favor of good teachers because of their dedication and curiosity to learn.

The concept of "fixing" poverty, unemployment and incarceration indicates it is somebody else's responsibility, probably that of government. These are not things that get fixed for anyone. People have to fix their own problems and shortcomings. The sooner that is embraced, the better and more organic the "fix" will be.

Submitted by Ken Roth (not verified) on September 20, 2012 6:01 pm

hey John Plantada: this remark, "The idea that minority students are locked out of educational opportunity is patently false," is patently false. I'm happy to share literally a shelf-ful of books that will beat your inaccuracy into dust, from every spectrum of the empirical process and both sides of the political spectrum.

Further, there are NOT "many inner city minority students who manuever through this quagmire." African American male enrollments in college have been static - and I mean STATIC - since 1976 when AA men accounted for 4.6% of the college-going population. Now, to your way of thinking, that number hasn't changed because we're all making excuses for the lack of black men's success, do I have that right? Meanwhile, a full one-third of AA males between the ages of 16 and 29 are under some form of criminal justice supervision, either incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. ONE THIRD OF THE ENTIRE AA MALE population. Now, given that AA males do not commit crime at rates higher than other ethnic groups, how do you explain that?

and your individual fix thy self is fine if the playing field is level and everyone gets the same fair shake but even you have to know that's not the way things roll. so all you did was show your racism in your rant, which is devoid of fact, and doesn't even begin to try to understand or acknowledge the very real impediments of poverty, racism and class. But if I misjudged you, a couple of books you might want to address to at least inform your thinking so that you don't sound so naive is The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights attorney, and The Price of Inequality: How today's divided society endagers our future by Joseph Stiglitz, the nobel economist.

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 20, 2012 6:52 pm


I respectfully disagree. I'm not surprised that because I disagree you have labeled me a racist. It's the typical response. You might do well to know that of the two minorities in the study, I am from one of them.

I don't mind the disagreement, but your shelf full of books doesn't mean you are any better authority than what I experienced firsthand.

Submitted by Ken Roth (not verified) on September 20, 2012 7:59 pm

john, we're all racists in america because we allow racism to persist and we do not dismantle the institutions that perpetuate racism and second class citizenship. as a likely victim of racism, I find it hard that you can deny it, but I also don't think you can speak to the racism experienced by other groups. again, when you say you disagree, you're disagreeing with a pretty solid body of literature produced by a wide array of research and researchers of all walks, so to disagree doesn't make you sound very intelligent since you're choosing to disagree with decades of fact and findings. and too this isn't a game of oneupmanship but it is about staying as accurate as possible to reality and your opinions are just that and they don't align with this empirical reality that's withstood test and test after test. get "The Willy Lynch Letter" and give that a read.

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 20, 2012 7:24 pm


What institutions should we dismantle? I didn't see any reference to that in the Schott Foundation study. Maybe now we'll get somewhere.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 21, 2012 12:07 pm

The thing I find so disturbing about your position Mr. Plantada is the old nature vs. nurture controversy which has been debated since civilization started. You seem to think that this problem of racial inequality in our society is just one of African-Amercians not being willing to "pull themselves up by their bootstrapes."

Your position totally ignores the history of the country which is the only way to understand the social structure of our society. If you are saying the social structure of our society is due to nature alone, you are saying low income African-Americans (and all low income people for that matter) are incapable of social equality because they are the cause of their inequality and they are innately incapable of responding to social remedies to overcome the harsh conditions they have lived in in this country for many generations.

You say we should stop "doing so much explaining and justification for poor outcomes and failure, and start addressing the real problems in many minority families -- single parent households, long term dependence on drugs and government subsidies, a fundamental lack of focus on the importance of education, parents who put their interests before those of their children, school leaders whose constituents are union leaders and not students, teacher unions and their obstructive work rules, to name a few."

In other words the fact that many African Americans live lives of grinding poverty is their own fault according to you. We have the largest prison population based on total population in the world. The proportion of African-Americans in prison is way beyond their percentage of the population. Are you saying of all the countries in the world, the U. S. breeds from birth a larger percentage of evil people that must be put in cages? Or could the social conditions of social inequality be the cause of our problems? If it is then this must be addressed politcially.

I assume you think that Corbett's cutting the state education budget by $900 million last year and increasing the prison budget by an equal amount is a good thing. I assume you believe like him that the wealthy should be helped and the poor are on their own.
This mentality explains why the bankers and hedge fund managers who trashed our economy are not in prison and continue to enrich themselves while petty thieves spend years of their life in prison.

As to your comment about teacher unions being responsible for the achievement gap in education in the quote above: Please turn off Fox News and look in the mirror. You are a teacher. You are in a union. Your working conditions are your students learning conditions. You are talking about yourself for xxxxxx sake!

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 21, 2012 6:16 pm

Tom-104: I can understand your reply, but your false choices and straw men just don't stand up. Finding oneself in poverty is not a question of it being one's fault, but likewise it is no excuse for failure.

Notwithstanding all the racism of the past, some of which continues to this day, people of color have to choose how they will live their lives -- accept their lot in life or push to succeed. I don't suggest that we just ignore the injustices or the reasons for the poverty itself.

I am saying that at some point, one has to just say, "So, I'm poor, I'm Black (or Latino), this has happened and that has, too. So what??? What am I going to do to change it? What can I do to change my life? What am I doing or not doing to make my life better?"

The key is to realize where one is and move forward from there. For some, it may just mean that they have to get up off their asses...because that's where they happen to be. For others, it may be they have to double down on the work they're already doing. And other still have to make or fine tune a plan.

When my parents came to the US with my brother and me, they had no education and they couldn't speak English. They had no real skills. They came with virtually nothing, except a dream. We were dirt poor. We lived in abject poverty.

But what kept my parents going, and eventually lifted my brother and me, was their dream and the goals they set. As hard as they worked, they knew they would never realize the American dream for themselves. Their goal -- that my brother and I would be well educated, that we would learn what it was to sacrifice and work hard towards a goal and for us to have a better life than they did. They chose to sacrifice their lives for us.

When friends were spending the little money they were making on partying, clothes and alcohol and drugs (in some cases), mine were either working an extra job and were at home making sure my brother and I had nutritious meals, quality clothes and that we finished our home work and read and studied beyond what was required.

When my friends were out running around till all hours on the streets of the inner city neighborhood we lived in getting into trouble, my brother and I were home doing our home work and studying as we often listened to our friends taunt us for being pussies.

When we played outside, my mom didn't leave the window, watching what we were doing. After becoming an adult, my mom told us how she would follow behind us after we were finally able to convince her to let us go a couple of blocks away to play basketball at the park. Why? Because our neighborhood had gangs, shootings, drugs and all the crime that goes along with it.

When my dad became ill after burning out from working 3 jobs so he could provide for the family and his commitment to the goal I referred to above, my mom had no choice but to get welfare for several months. She hated it. She couldn't wait to get off it, and she did the minute she could. My dad stayed home and she went out and found one, two, three jobs while he recuperated.

I lived racism. I was regularly called a spic, white boy, among other things. My friends accepted me to a point because I was there, but I never felt like I was part of the inner circle. Nonetheless, these same friends loved coming to my house because my mom and dad always welcomed them with snacks, drinks and a smile. Their motivation -- even though these guys were just being opportunistic, my mom got to see how they acted and who to be concerned about. And also, if we were home, we weren't asking to go to someone else's house where she didn't know what was going on.

I saw lived hatred and outright racism. It was ugly, and it was sometimes violent.

My friends and I had the same environmental obstacles. We would have been "locked out" and "pushed out" just the same as is reported in the Schott Foundation study. Except there was one important difference -- I didn't give anyone a reason to push me or lock me out. Many of my friends did. They taunted and ridiculed me for going to school and not skipping class, doing all my home work and getting good grades.

I know there are social injustices. Being Black (or Latino) and male is a liability -- cops will stop you, people will suspect this or that. I lived that. The war on drugs fiasco and its effect on black boys and men is another major issue. I get that. We have to work as a society to create change there.

Like I said earlier -- I am saying that at some point, one has to just say, "So, I'm poor, I'm Black (or Latino), this has happened and that has, too. So what??? What am I going to do to change it? What can I do to change my life? What am I doing or not doing to make my life better?"

Submitted by Che Che Bradbury (not verified) on September 21, 2012 7:42 pm

Beautifully stated. Thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Absolutely correct

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 20, 2012 6:07 pm

This is a damning report of public schools in general when we look at objective results. The Schott Foundation's report definitely demonstrates the gap between African American/White students and Latino/White students.

I don't agree with the study's conclusions, and the "willful neglect" isn't supported by the study, except for the Foundation's own agenda. There’s no question that Black and Latino students lag behind their white counterparts. It’s interesting that the Schott failed to study why Latino students (most of whom are exposed to the same “willful neglect”) perform significantly better than African American students. Similarly, the study could have looked at the States with the highest performing results to determine differences, but didn’t.

The poll of parents that concluded that funding and not safety was the primary driver for success just shows how well political, school and union leaders have marketed their nonsense.

The Schott Foundation might well spend an equal amount of time studying the environment students grow up in, family dynamics, family makeup and family involvement in education to complete its perspective and develop action plans for future success. Using code words for discrimination and racism throughout its report is only going to perpetuate the victimhood stereotype that seems to be important to that organization.

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on September 20, 2012 7:16 pm

The entire premise of this article is flawed. More money is not going to lead to dramatic increases in graduation rates or test scores. We in Philadelphia have to stop kidding ourselves that our goal is college readiness for all. While we send a fair amount of students to college from my High school; ask any teacher and he/she will tell you that maybe 1% or 2% graduate. What is the purpose of keeping of such an abject policy failure in place??

I know it provides jobs for tenured college professors until as a sincerely hope Mastery or some other charter operators start chasing all that money we spend on college students who never graduate and replace professors with TFA trained specialist. We as a nation could save a whole lot of money with TFA professors and the Charter operators could make a boatload of money. There is a lot of money on that table.

Inner city kids graduate with no skills and we ship then them off to college so they can fail again. That is the policy we are working under. I think we would be better served with a massive program to assure that every graduating senior read and did math at the 6th grade level. That would be a huge improvement over my current students and would set the kids up for further education or training when they are ready.

But arguing about graduation rates is pointless. Graduate so you can drop out of the first year of college and have student loan collectors hound you for the rest of your life?? Sounds like a crappy policy to me.

And does any serious person think a Philadelphia High School graduate is as well equipped as a Lower Merion graduate of whatever race???

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on September 20, 2012 8:55 pm

What a practical point of view! You're absolutely right. The study doesn't even begin to touch on the fact that even the students who graduate are ill prepared for a fruitful future as adults who can have a career and build a decent life for themselves and their families.

It's a sad state of affairs that you have to wait until you get into college so you can get remedial reading and math classes to try to bring you up to snuff. It's absurd!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on September 23, 2012 8:43 pm

People like to call the gap an achievement gap between Black and Latino students and White and Asian students when it is largely an opportunity gap. I also know first hand that some people have lower expectations of Black and Latino/a students because these people hold stereotypes about the intellectual capabilities of Black and Latino/a children. On the other hand, many people assume that Asian children are smart. But of course, talking about prejudice and stereotypes is uncomfortable so people generally like to avoid these discussions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2012 2:36 pm

Read Creating the Opportunity to Learn and The Flat World of Education. People who are uninformed and ignorant are a huge part of the education crisis in the United States! Why don't you take some time to read and research before you spout out your ignorance? The educational system is full of inequality! The achievement gap is getting bigger every year. Maybe we should stop pointing fingers to blame others for the problem and start talking about solutions. Equitable funding, increased teacher preparation, desegregation is schools (you may thing this was settled 60 years ago but it was not), early interventions, mandatory preschool etc. You people astound me...

Submitted by John C. Plantada (not verified) on October 9, 2012 2:42 pm

I agree with you that early intervention is key in the education process. I think we may disagree what that means, but I'll give you my take.

Early childhood education begins before a child is born. The parents have to make a commitment that they will do everything necessary to create an environment where their child will learn to learn and love to learn. They must also commit to ensuring their child will be exposed to those things that will help them succeed in school. Things like...listening to classical music, reading, discussing, treating each other with respect, letting their child know they can and will become whatever they want, etc. Parents also have to decide that, even if it means they suffer personally, they will avail their child of every opportunity to enrich their minds.

The achievement gap exists, but the root cause is not inequitable funding, poor teacher preparation and segregation. If the book you read is anything like the Schott study, it misses the point.

Submitted by gabriela (not verified) on June 4, 2014 7:38 am
We need to changeour attitude. I think it's disgusting that teachers are so narrow minded and make these differences. And beside this problem, that may or not be problem in some schools, there is another one: the fact that these childrenare so used to this kind of treatment that they don't feel motivated to give it their best at school. faceti asigurari

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