The statistics in the November 9, 2010 New York Times article, “Black Boys Score Far Behind White Students,” leave one speechless. According to the report entitled “A Call for Change” released November 8 by urban schools advocacy group the Council for Great City Schools, only 12 percent of black males are proficient reading at grade level reading while in fourth grade, compared to 38 percent of white males.
The statistics do not look much better when comparing for poverty as measured by qualifying for school lunches. Poverty does not seem to answer the question because, according to the report, poor white males do just as well as black males who are purportedly not in poverty. Looking forward, things don’t get better. The article states:
“In high school, African-American boys drop out at nearly twice the rate of white boys, and their SAT scores are on average 104 points lower. In college, black men represented just 5 percent of students in 2008.”
WATCH NBC NIGHTLY NEWS COVERAGE OF THE REPORT:
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”40098271^3090^143100″ id=”msnbcc3463″]
President Obama stated: “One of the best anti-poverty programs is a world class education.” I wholeheartedly agree. We know that people learn in different ways and many have different styles of learning, but there is no excuse on the part of our country, teachers and parents for the abysmal performance of our young men in education. The ability to read and do very basic statement analysis is crucial in just about every area of life. If one cannot read, they will not make solid, well-informed decisions. The likelihood of being deceived by contracts or any type of written agreement, multiplies when someone is a poor reader.
Armed with these new statistics, we must take action as a community and nation. We know that black male dropouts lead the country in terms of incarceration and that this trend will continue to increase. The high cost of sustaining a prison system — in desperate need of reform — is illogical and fiscally impossible. We need to conduct a national dialogue on how to get to the heart of criminality and truly start intervening at the first sight of risk factors. These traits unfortunately start before the child is ever born. As a strategic forecaster, I’m tempted to bury my head in the sand as I look forward.
So let’s look at our options. Black males who drop out of school are likely to live in long protracted periods of poverty. They will pick up skill-sets often involving a criminal lifestyle. More than likely they will spend time in jail or prison, leading to the wrong type of schooling. We are faced with mounting crises in the black community and the days of deflecting simply will not work.
We can no longer trust in a savior that will emerge and fix our problems. The deliverers will emerge within our community. Mentors, coaches, parents, grandparents and professionals from all walks of life will say, “Enough!” The question is: How unbearable must this situation become?
We know that we should mentor young men and women in all areas of life, but we also have to send this message: “If you are unable to take care of children, it is unacceptable to have them. Stop!”
We have a plethora of “baby mamas” and daddies in all communities — black and white — who do not have the wherewithal to raise healthy kids. The 40 percent out of wedlock rate is a national crisis. We have to read the writing on the wall — enough is enough. Unfortunately some can’t read it. Those who are literate have to start reading it for those who can’t, and teach them a better way.