The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing It Is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing It Is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing It Is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing It Is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time


When it comes to race in America, we must face one uncomfortable but undeniable fact. Almost 50 years after the birth of the civil rights movement, inequality still reigns supreme in our classrooms. At a time when African-American students trail their white peers on academic tests and experience high dropout rates, low college completion rates, and a tendency to shy away from majors in hard sciences and mathematics, the Black-White achievement gap in our schools has become the major barrier to racial equality and social justice in America. In fact, it is arguably the greatest civil rights issue of our time.
The Black-White Achievement Gap is a call to action for this country to face up to and confront this crisis head on. Renowned former Secretary of Education Rod Paige believes we can close this gap. In this thought-provoking book, he and Elaine Witty trace the history of the achievement gap, discuss its relevance to racial equality and social justice, examine popular explanations, and offer suggestions for the type of committed leadership and community involvement needed to close it. African-American leaders need to rally around this important cause if we are to make real progress since students' academic performance is a function not only of school quality, but of home and community factors as well. The Black-White Achievement Gap is an unflinching and long overdue look at
the very real problem of racial disparity in our schools and what we must do to solve it.

Chosen by The American School Board magazine as one of 2010's Top Education Reads.


On February 7, 2003, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, former Milwaukee Public School Superintendent Dr. Howard Fuller, and I met with U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige in his office. At the time I was a member of the Council of the District of Columbia and Chair of the Committee on Education Libraries and Recreation.

While it was largely reported that we met to discuss the federally funded Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) proposed by President George W. Bush and Secretary Paige, we actually talked about far more than that. In fact, we spent a substantial portion of the meeting talking about the education deficits of children of color in this country and the lack of outrage in response thereto. Both Secretary Paige, a former superintendent of the Houston Public Schools, and Dr. Fuller spoke about their experiences as leaders of large urban school districts. They lamented the fact that there was a collective lack of urgency about the growing achievement gap between African American and white schoolchildren. That complacency, they suggested at the time, had led to an acceptance of the status quo, which is destroying the educational outputs of our kids. What's worse, Dr. Paige emphasized, is that our leadership has a head-in-the-sand response to these growing deficits.

That meeting, which involved four African American men, helped pave the way for the first federally funded scholarship program for lowincome District of Columbia children. As a result of that program, 2,000 children have been able to attend selected private schools of their choice in the District and, thus, receive the quality education that they might not otherwise receive. One notable scholarship recipient was Tiffany Duston, who graduated valedictorian of her class at Archbishop Carroll Catholic High School in D.C. Tiffany, who now attends Syracuse University . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.