EDUCATION; Higher Expectations

Article excerpt

It doesn't have to be Black History Month to justify serious concern about nearly 30 percent of Duval County's population.

Duval County includes a larger African-American population than other major Florida cities. And blacks will be growing as a share of the populace in the future of Duval County.

That means that the county cannot fully prosper unless its black citizens do, too.

Education is the key.

About 40 percent of the students in the Duval County public schools are black, reports the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

"The fact that Florida's graduation rate for African-American male students is lower than the national average has a significant effect on national education outcomes," the Schott Foundation reported.

Yet this is not fated to happen. In some states, such as New Jersey, African-American students graduate at levels above white students in Florida.

And in Baltimore County, Md., the successful graduation rates of black students are nearly unparalleled.

The Schott report also noted that public schools in Florida are more likely to classify black students as mentally retarded and are less likely to enroll blacks in gifted programs. …