Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Black Men and Education Focus of Urban League Report

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Black Men and Education Focus of Urban League Report

Article excerpt

This year's "The State of Black America" study by the National Urban League pays the most attention to Black males because they are further away from parity with their White counterparts in several significant categories.

Black men face the greatest battle to gain equality in society, and Urban League leaders say improving the educational outcomes of Black males is the best path for changing their plight.

Compared to White men, African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed and earn, on average, 74 percent as much in income annually. Black men are seven times as likely as Whites to spend time in jail.

"Empowering Black men to reach their full potential is the most serious economic and civil rights challenge we face today," says Urban League President Marc H. Morial. "Ensuring their future is critical, not just for the African-American community, but for the prosperity, health and well-being of the entire American family."

It seems that Black children, especially Black boys, are losing out as early as elementary school in the process to maintain parity with Whites.

In writing proficiency tests, for example, Blacks score 13 percent lower than Whites, the study states. When they reach the final year in high school, Blacks only score at 74 percent of what white students score. Statistics like this are prompting recommendations on how to empower Blacks to edge closer to parity. Some suggestions presented by the Urban League include:

* Providing comprehensive early childhood education for all children

* Establishing more all-male schools with longer school days and more mentoring

* Creating more "second-chance" programs for high school dropouts and ex-offenders

* Restoring the federal Summer Jobs Program to its pre-2000 state

* Driving home the message to children that education pays dividends later in life

Dr. Edward F. Dragan, who spent more than 30 years in schools as a teacher, principal and superintendent, says the need for Black male elementary school teachers is more than obvious when statistics on convicted criminals are brought into play.

"When you've got such a high population of young Black men in jail and 90 percent of those individuals are people who have some type of learning disability or were never taught properly in school, that's weird," says Dragan, the founder and principle consultant of New Jersey-based Educational Management Consulting LLC. …

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