Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Education Study Shows Bleak Picture for Black Boys

Another study was released this month showing that educational achievement for Black males has reached a crisis level and may be worse than previously thought. The report, entitled "A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools", was funded by The Council Of The Great City Schools. This is yet another report which indicates that the disparities in educational performance cannot simply be blamed on poverty.

From the New York Times:

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

Perhaps the toughest finding from the report is the fact that Black male students with no disabilities, are barely even with White male students who are learning disabled. Read more from The Loop21. See a summary of the CGCS report (pdf).See the Full Report.

Hear an in-depth discussion about the findings of the report from NPR.

The CGCS report seems to confirm the Policy Bridge report from a few years ago, which had a similar focus and generally presented many of the same findings. However, I believe the CGCS report may be more extensive. It also echoed information from The Schott Foundation report. So just within the last 3 or 4 years you have 3 major reports on the same issue... from Policy Bridge, the Schott Foundation, and now CGCS which are all generally reporting the same findings. Not to mention all of the other reports and studies over the last decade.

The Black establishment focuses on "The system" and "poverty" as the culprits for these problems, but those arguments can no longer be used as excuses. I have stated here several times that the core problem has to do with culture, as the Policy Bridge Report points out. The problem also lies with parents. I think the Black establishment (Civil Rights Inc. etc) uses these excuses as a way to somehow protect Black culture or Black parenthood. I made my argument in a previous commentary regarding the Black male achievement gap. You can also find links to the Policy Bridge study there as well. So I won't repeat my argument again. But it is clear that the old arguments are not going to cut it anymore.

In terms of conclusions... I was a little disappointed to see that the CGCS report did not seem to focus on the cultural gap. It seemed to tiptoe around that issue... perhaps for the purpose of political correctness...who knows. This is where I think the Policy Bridge study really shined. It came out and addressed the elephant in the room... "culture".... today's "Black/Urban culture" in particular. Instead of focusing on the real causes... the CGCS report simply calls for "a White House Conference", and more studies (although this issue has probably been studied more than anything known to man). We don't need more huge studies or commissions... we need a cultural shift and parents willing to take responsibility for raising and educating their children.

Hear a discussion with Dr. Ron Ferguson of the Achievement Gap Initiative from Harvard University. (From KMOX RAdio in St. Louis)

Hear full discussion.

I am also annoyed by the effort to demonize teachers and use them as scapegoats. The Black establishment, and even "the system" have joined together to focus the blame on teachers. A teacher in California recently took his own life because the test scores for his students were released by a major newspaper (with no context whatsoever). The newspaper report (which I will not link...nor will I provide clicks for the newspaper in question) gave the impression that the teacher was not doing the best he could. It turns out...the teacher who killed himself was one of the hardest working and most dedicated instructors in his school and his district. The test score issue is a red herring, used by school administrators (misused) to intimidate teachers. The fact is, standardized test scores are not usually a good reflection of the dedication or quality of a teacher. This is especially the case in urban schools.

Teachers have a hard enough time already. They are undervalued and under-appreciated considering the role they play in society, particularly in shaping America's future. They are underpaid and they often have to work in awful work environments where their safety is in question and where they are not given the support they need from school administrators. It's the same nonsense at every urban school district in the Country (and even in some suburban districts). Sure there are bad teachers...but they don't make up the majority. There are ways to evaluate teachers and get rid of the bad apples (by sending in panels of experienced instructors from other schools to watch the teachers in class and provide objective feedback, and by getting feedback from peers and from students. It should not be done through test scores alone). In the case of the California teacher...he was also dealing with a language barrier...with a significant number of his students having trouble with English or not having English as their first language - yet another variable that is not taken into account.

A great example of the kind of insanity that I am referring to can be seen in the A&E program Tony Danza: Teach. The taping of the program takes place in an urban high school in Philadelphia. Unfortunately this show didn't get renewed for another season...but despite that, it provides insight into what is ailing the American public school system. In episode #7, one of Danza's Black students- Algernon- is given numerous chances to turn in a simple homework assignment, but fails to do the work. Can you guess who the school principal jumped on for that? Yep... the principal took a bite out of Danza's ass for the student not listening and refusing to turn in his homework. The student was coddled. The principal is the typical urban school administrator. This is the kind of nonsense that makes my conservative side kick in.... and it is one of the things that annoys me about liberals... sometimes their way of thinking goes too far to the left with no rhyme or reason. Overall... i'm progressive, but I have a few conservative tendencies. I don't embrace many of the positions on the far left. The proper, logical response from this principal (or any principal) should have been to call the parents in...and sit down together with the student, and the teacher to try to find a solution. This would be an opportunity to give the parents a kick in the ass (encourage them to get more involved... provide them with options...and challenge them). But instead of holding the student and his parents responsible for the students performance...she blames the teacher. INCREDIBLE! If this is going on all over the Country (and I know it is)... then America is screwed if it stays on this path. I know this is one reason why the turnover is so high for urban schools. Good teachers don't want to stick around to deal with that kind of nonsense. They pack up and leave for better suburban schools and private schools, where they get more support from administrators and where the working conditions tend to be better.

Watch The Full Episode:

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