Failing Our Black Children

Article excerpt

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, which theoretically ended school segregation in America. But many schools are as segregated today as they were before the ruling, and Black children throughout the United States are performing at the bottom of the American educational system.

The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., in a state-by-state comparison, comes in last on the NAEP reading exam in 2003. Seven percent of its Black fourth-graders scored at or above proficient on the reading exam, versus 70 percent of White fourth-graders.

And while equal and adequate funding of our educational system is a major issue, it is not the only issue. For example, Prince George's County, Md., which is almost 70 percent Black, is one of the most affluent Black communities in the nation. And academically speaking, it's also one of the lowest-performing counties in Maryland.

An achievement gap gives way to an employability gap, an earnings gap, a health care gap, a life expectancy gap, a housing gap, an incarceration gap, a marriage-ability gap, a wealth gap and other quality-of-life gaps. This achievement gap begins before children start school, widens between kindergarten and second grade and is locked in by the third grade. The gap persists through elementary school, high school, college and ultimately the work force.

Without a good education, many Black children are being prepared for the streets, the drag culture, violence, unemployment, prison and death. Without a good education, Black children will be unable to compete with the best and brightest students from all parts of the world for jobs in America. Without a good education, Black children are not much better off than the slaves that they might be studying during Black history mouth. …

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