The Plight of Our Black Boys -> The Plight of Us All

The Plight of Our Black Boys -> The Plight of Us All

I discovered this report published by the Schott Foundation today, and my heart is heavy.  Just take a look at some of these stats.

  • Nationwide, in 2008, white male students graduated at a rate of 78%, while black male students graduated at a rate of 47%.
  • The gap has widened–in 2006, white male students graduated at a rate of 75%, which means there was a 3% increase over the two year span.  Black male students graduated at a rate of 47%–no change.
  • The ten lowest performing states (including the district) for black males are: GA (where I live – 43% graduation rate), AL (42%), IN (42%), DC (41%), OH (41%), NE (40%), LA (39%), SC (39%), FL (37%) , and NY (25%).
    • Side note: 25%?!?! 25%, New York? Whoa!!!  The graduation rate for white males was 68%!  That’s a 43% gap!

Before I launch into my diatribe about the plight of our children, let me highlight some positives in the report:

  • The ten best performing states for black males are: ME (98%), ND (93%), NH (83%), VT (83%), ID (75%), MT (73%), UT (72%), SD (71%), NJ (69%), and IA (63%).
    • Side note: Now, this is good and all,… but I will have to pull the population data for these states to see just how many black male students were there in the first place. :-/
  • Two of the best performing large districts for black males are in GA: Gwinnett County (58%) and Cobb County (51%).

Now, listen, I know that everything in this report can’t be fully analyzed (and please remember that this report provides more than just graduation rates–it also has reading and math test average scores, advanced placement, special education, and discipline data) until they are put in context (I do this every day for a living).  BUT, at the surface, it’s obvious that we have a problem, a serious one.  Here are my initial thoughts in reaction to this report.

:: Coupled with the incarceration rates of our black men, this is certainly alarming.  Our futures are in jeopardy if we can’t reel this on in.  When folks start droning on and on about the plight of the educated black woman, this is the stuff we really need to be focused on–the root of these problems.  If you think black women can’t find suitable mates, then we need to figure how to reverse this–not let it fester and perpetuate.  The black community is at danger when we can’t get our kids through the bare minimum level of schooling.  And we’ve known this, right? But now, here it is staring us in the face through this report. So what we gone do now?

:: Yes, it’s time for my me vs. we soapbox.  So many of the black community’s problems are embedded in the fact that we have become so disjointed from each other.  So many of us go day to day thinking about only ourselves and our short-term happiness.  And while those are certainly valid thoughts, we should also be thinking about our community and our collective long-term happiness.  Yes, the parents are responsible for their kids, but I still believe the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.  We need to be reaching out to those less fortunate than us through mentorship and even advocacy.  Give up a weekend to volunteer with an organization that focuses on our youth.  Skip a couple of coffee breaks and donate that money to charity or your alma mater or to buy a book for a neighbor’s child.  There are so many ways we can get beyond ourselves and redevelop our interconnectivity.  And that’s vital.

:: Black folks aren’t the only ones that should be worried about this.  Listen here–the performance of each and every one of our kids is factored into the overall graduation rate. Guess what–if we can get these rates up, the overall rate will increase as well.  How can we expect to have competitive communities if we aren’t effectively training our future workforce? It’s no wonder (besides other educational factors) that the U.S. has gone from #1 to #12 in college completion rates for young adults in one single generation.  This has a direct impact on how competitive this nation is compared to other countries.  As I’ve said time and time again, what we do for our kids today molds what our society will look like tomorrow.  And guess what–you can support the cost of quality public education today or you can support the cost of programs that support the unemployed and those not even in the labor force tomorrow.  You can run, pulling your kids out of school and putting them in private schools instead of getting involved with the local school board and making your concerns heard through local politics, but trust me, you. cannot. hide.  Uneducated kids grow up to be uneducated or miseducated adults. (Sidenote: I mean, educated kids can grow up to be miseducated as well, but that’s not relevant to today’s post, so moving on…) We cannot continue to be okay with shortchanging our kids.

:: Y’all know I’m not a problem-oriented person. I’m solution-oriented. So what do I want you to do?  I want you to read this report and really think about the repercussions. Tell me how you feel about it in the comments.  Then I want the mentors, tutors, volunteers, philanthropists, and advocates out there to keep doing what you do, and I want the teachers to continue going into those classrooms and busting your patootie everyday even though you are likely underappreciated.  I want you guys out there to continue (or start) reading the news and keeping up with issues like this one that impacts us so adversely.  And I want anyone who is looking for something to do to become a mentor.  You don’t have to be well off to be a mentor. Join Big Sisters/Big Brothers or go through your district to see what opportunities are available or take some interest in someone at your church and be a light in a kid’s life.  Show them that they are cared for and encourage them to be their best.  Just because you can.  It only takes an hour here or there to make a difference.  Do your part.

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4 thoughts on “The Plight of Our Black Boys -> The Plight of Us All

  1. Great article. This topic often arises between my friends and I. It first became a hot topic about a five years ago during my last year of college. A Black, female colleague and I were talking about the absence of Black men in our architecture program. During our 5 year, there were only a total of TWO Black males that were enrlled and graduated. Our other colleague (a white female) and her husband overheard us. He made the comment that a few weeks before he had an interview with about 15 college students and none of them were men of ANY color. He stated that he just wanted to know what happened to the men period. My mom is a chemist, she employs coops every year. She also hasn’t had a male student in 3 years.

    Overall, men have fallen behind. Men graduate at 42% while females at 58%.

    However, that’s another conversation. As far your post about black males. Where do I begin? Now this is just everything my friends and I came up with sitting around an IHOP table at 2 am after cocktails and hooka. lol So we aren’t basing anything off of read articles, but just some observations we had. I think it was our brainstorm on just bringing the topic out, and where to go next.

    Some detrimental factors:

    1. the growth of the single-parent households with a female leader. Young girls sad to say get used to a man not being around as a provider. Also, young girls see their mother as an example. If mom is handling the bills, by herself, the girl sees this as I have to take care of myself etc. At the same time, the mom is forever preaching go to school, get your education, get a good job, so you can take care of yourself. Don’t end up like me.

    Ironically, in women led households, the boys are usually protected, shielded more. Why? We didn’t come up with a theory for this one. But it’s true. Boys are giving more freedom and way more slack on responsibility.

    Possible Solution: Have no idea. We came up with as you stated in your post. Mentors and big brothers.

    2. The black community idols are not those who are most educated. As a community, not even Black influentials like the Cornel West, the Hill Harpers, Farrah Gray, Kenneth Chenault are household names. Even trailblazers like Shirley Chislom or even Clarence Thomas or Colin Powell (regardless if we agree with their political beliefs) are forgotten. Kids and actually a lot of 20 – 30 years old couldn’t tell you anything about those mentioned, but could tell you all about T.I.’s and Tiny’s wedding or who will be on the next season of basketball wives. We are letting our kids be influenced by fame and popularity, which has replaced morals, respect, charity, and to an extent in money.

    Possible Solution: A Community Makover – a social revolution

    3. I can’t remember the year, but I think late 1970s there was a shift in teaching style when girls were lagging behind. A few of my friends are teachers and say they try to do a neutral lesson, but often end up explaining everything twice. Once in a way more for the girls to understand and the other for the boys to understand. But they also admit, they can’t do it for EVERY lesson, and that it’s easier to teach the girls than the boys. It’s less work because they need less motivation and are more eager to learn. (AGAIN, not proven facts.. just the comments of THREE teachers.) And then another fact they pointed out was that in their classes they are more girls than boys period. For example, in a class of 25: their at 19 girls and 6 boys and in that 6 boys, only 1 is Black.

    Possible Resolution: Possible separate classes for boys and girls until a certain age or at the critical stages.

    I also agree with what you and CJ said earlier about the responsibility and involvement of the parents.

    Done. Sorry so long! Great job as always, RR!

  2. Forgot one!

    4. College and Affordability.

    Studies show that women have more debt than men. Women are more willing to use the credit system than men. Therefore, the fact that most students especially Black students have to use student loans, most Black males refuse to take the loan.

    (I was grocery shopping and thinking man food is high, when I thought about the cost and the credit system.)

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