Black men make important, vital contributions to this country. According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, they own 60% of black-owned businesses; more black men serve in the military than men of any other ethnic group; and black households give 25% more of their income to charity than white households. Yet, there is an insidious danger that young black men in school are exposed to every day. It doesn’t snuff out their lives in an instant but can hobble them for life. That danger is educational inequity.
In its recent report, Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50-State Report on Public Education and Black Males, the Schott Foundation states that the American public school system underserves black children, particularly black males. John Jackson, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Schott Foundation, says that there are districts in the country where black males graduate from high school at rates as low as 28% and which have seen little change in more than a decade. To raise that figure, Jackson says that supports need to be put in place that “provide all students an opportunity to learn.” He cites supports such as health, mentoring, and tutoring resources that are available in some states and districts but are not provided where the need is greatest. He says it’s “both a resource and an alignment issue, but at the core, it’s an issue of public and political will.”
Gail Christopher, Ph.D., vice president for policy and senior advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, says that whole districts are underresourced in the materials teachers have access to; the quality of the school environment; and textbooks. “Where there is high poverty, there is less investment in schools,” Christopher says and cites the structure that funds schools according to their local tax base–virtually guaranteeing an inequitable outcome. Although it may seem unlikely that the current funding structure would ever change, Allan Golston, president of the United States Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says that some states are experimenting with funding approaches in the hope that inequities can be reduced. This structural challenge leads to huge variations in school districts and even within school districts, Golston says. “Fifty to 70% of a school’s budget comes from its local tax base,” he adds.
Reporting an estimated national high school graduation rate in 2012—2013 of 59% (compared with a white male graduation rate of 80%) that increased from 51% in 2009—2010, the Schott Report also notes the following:
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