November 4 — 2:30 pm, 2011

The achievement gap: International and racial

The fight for educational equality requires our communities, schools, and local and national leaders to make their voices heard and make tangible actions. This is the first blog post from new blogger, Marcus Sean Hall, full-time teacher, full-time student, and, always, full-time advocate. Marcus Sean Hall will be blogging as EduPhanatic.

Earlier this year, a leading businessman and philanthropist asked a large audience at a national education conference, “Would you rather be a high school dropout in Manhattan [New York City] or a high school graduate in Bombay [India]?” 

Before anyone could answer, he responded, “In the past, this answer was simple because most would prefer to struggle in the U.S. [a developed country] versus surviving in a third world nation; however, the lines are becoming blurred as third world nations develop and evolve and Americans with limited education face fewer options.”

In 2009, average reading and mathematics scores of Black students in grades 4 and 8 in urban districts were not significantly different from Hispanic students in large cities. However, both groups’ performance lagged behind that of White students.

Overcoming this gap that begins in the 4th grade, prior to a child’s teenage years, seems insurmountable. However, when we review the consequences that our children face, we must act early and often rather than accepting this gap as an undeniable fact. According to The Council of Great City Schools:

  • Black high school seniors are less likely to be involved in academic clubs and school activities, which heavily impact students’ college acceptance rates.

  • Black or low-income students are more likely to be held back/retained during their K-8 experiences than their other classmates.

  • In 2006, Black students were more likely to be suspended than their classmates: 3x more likely than White students, 2x more likely than Hispanic and American Indian students, and 5x more likely than Asian American students.

This gap that starts near age 10 creates a gap that widens as our children grow up. The “system” is not what is attacking our children and holding us back from accomplishing the same graduation rates (high school and college), employment rates, and income levels as others in America. 

As parents and faith leaders, we must provide resources and encouragement to our children that “being smart is a good thing and going to college is a good goal.” Even in America, this can mean a world of difference for one’s life experiences. The future prosperity and competitiveness of America will be determined by how well we look at ourselves in the mirror and begin to tangibly address these issues.

This blog will not only highlight the issues from many perspectives, but we will discuss what works and how we can replicate the works. Let’s get real!

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