Troubling Truths About Black Boys and the U.S. Educational System
crisis begins in homes, stretches to K-12 educational experiences, and leads
straight to the cycle of incarceration in increasingly high
By Matthew Lynch
August 26, 2015
Most people like to think that American K-12 schools, workplaces and
courthouses are pillars of fairness, but statistic after statistic all point to
a crisis among the young, Black men of the nation. This crisis begins in homes,
stretches to K-12 educational experiences, and leads straight to the cycle of
incarceration in increasingly high numbers. In America's prison systems, black
citizens are incarcerated at six times the rates of white ones - and the NAACP
predicts that one in three of this generation of Black men will spend some time
While there are many areas of improvement that we could look at changing
for more successful outcomes for black men, I will discuss just four indicators
that illustrate the current situation for black boys in the U.S., with the hope
of starting a conversation about what we can do to produce a stronger generation
of Black young men in our society.
1. Black boys are more
likely to be placed in special education.
While it is true that Black boys often arrive in Kindergarten classrooms
with inherent disadvantages, they continue to experience a "behind the 8-ball"
mentality as their school careers progress. Black boys are more likely than any
other group to be placed in special education classes, with 80 percent of all
special education students being Black or Hispanic males.
boys are more likely to attend schools without the adequate resources to educate
Schools with majority Black students tend to have lower amounts of teachers
who are certified in their degree areas. A U.S. Department of Education report
found that in schools with at least 50 percent Black students, only 48 percent
were certified in the subject, compared with 65 percent in majority white
schools. In English, the numbers were 59 and 68 percent, respectively and in
science, they were 57 percent and 73 percent.
3. Black boys are not
reading at an adequate level.
In 2014, the Black Star Project published findings that just 10
percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered "proficient" in
reading. In urban areas like Chicago and Detroit, that number was even lower. By
contrast, the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 46
percent of white students are adequate readers by eighth grade, and 17 percent
of Black students as a whole are too. The achievement gap between the two races
is startling, but the difference between the NAEP report on Black students as a
whole and the Black Star findings of just Black boys is troubling too. It is not
simply Black children in general who appear to be failing in the basics - like
literacy; it is the boys.
Punishment for black boys is harsher than for any other
Punishment for Black boys - even first-time offenders - in schools is
harsher than any other demographic. Consider these facts:
These trends are not conducive to improving
the numbers of young black men who are able to attend college. In fact, the
numbers are dismal when it comes to black young men who attend and graduate from
colleges in the U.S. Statistically speaking, black men have the lowest test
scores, the worst grades and the highest dropout rates - in K-12 education, and
in college too.
This is why college motivation within and outside the black community is so
vital for these young men. But in order to get there, black boys must
experience the motivation to succeed well before college.
Illinois State Senators Jacqueline Collins and
Mattie Hunter protect seniors from scam artists
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In the wake of revelations that
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Attend Black Star Community
PTA Meet and Greet
Saturday, August 29, 2015, 10:00
3330 South King Drive
games, backpacks, school supplies and medical check-ups!
Illinois Legislative Black
addresses racial disparities in school discipline
Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford,
Illinois State Senate
2012 study found that Illinois suspends more African-American students than any
other state in the U.S., including a Black-White suspension
disparity that is the highest in the country. To address this all-too-apparent
problem and the overall frequency of out-of-school discipline, a new law will
help to ensure that all students are in school and off the streets as
much as possible.
"Constantly suspending and expelling
the very kids that need to be in school is one of the most counter-productive
practices of our education system," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly
Lightford, sponsor of the successful legislation. "We need to keep young people
in school learning how to succeed and off of the street corner learning how best
to end up in prison."
The new law will address the
frequency and racial disparity of suspensions and expulsions in several ways,
including the following:
Disciplinary removals of longer than three days must be limited to instances
where the student's presence is an on-going threat to the school, and all other
options have been exhausted.
A school board must state how a suspension and expulsion is in the best
interest of a school before disciplinary action.
School districts must establish re-engagement policies for disciplined
Suspended students must be given the opportunity to make up their work.
School officials must limit suspensions and expulsions to the greatest
Original research into state
records has shown that in the 2010-2011 school year, Illinois students lost
1,117,453 instructional days due to disciplinary actions, 95 percent of which
were for minor offenses.
"Illinois' highest-need students are
dropping out of school or ending up in the criminal justice system - at an
enormous cost to Illinois taxpayers - for incidents that could have and should
have been addressed within the school environment," said Sen. Lightford.
"Expulsions and suspensions will now only be a last resort. This is a great
victory for everyone in Illinois and all those children who hold out hope for
their future in what has seemed, at times, like an elusive dream of a great
The law goes into effect September
August 30, 2015
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- Code 2040 Entrepreneur in Residence. A native of the Chicago area, Riana is a
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2:30 pm to
church, mosque or temple
773.285.9600 to RSVP, for more information or to create a Sunday University in
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Interviews with contemporaries and devotees of Thomas A. Dorsey are
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Register for the Free
Black Star Project's
Fall Math Boot Camp for
5th- through 8th-grade students
What is Math Boot Camp?
Math Boot Camp is a tutoring program for 5th- through 8th-grade students
with a strong focus on reviewing and reinforcing math fundamentals while
building problem solving skills. This weekly program features small group
tutoring. Often times, the reason students struggle in math is because they do
not have a strong grasp of the basics. We work with these students to ensure
that they are reviewing critical basic concepts and learning problem solving
strategies. We identify areas of weakness and target those skills, filling in
the gaps one concept at a time.
Why is this program important?
In Chicago, only 9% of Black males in the 8th grade are proficient in math,
according to the 2013 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). More
alarmingly, the majority of 8th grade Black males (56%) are performing below a
basic level in mathematics! Students need more than just homework help. They
need a comprehensive problem solving education that gives them the tools to
tackle any problem they encounter.
How do I register my student?
If you are interested in registering for this program, please call
773.285.9600 for more