Group Wants Congress to Close Achievement Gap for Black Students


The Campaign for High School Equity, a national coalition of civil rights organizations focused on high school reform, is looking to Congress during Black History Month to take the action necessary to close the achievement gap for African American students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 53 percent of black students graduate from high school each school year compared with an average of more than 70 percent of all students nationwide. Among the challenges to black student achievement, two out of every five black students attend drop-out factories -- high schools where no more than 60 percent of the entering freshman class makes it to their senior year three years later.

"As a community, African Americans cannot stand by ignoring the devastating impact of ineffective education policies that cause too many of our high schools to fail in providing high-quality education to our country's future workforce and our next generation of business and political leaders," said Michael Wotorson, executive director of CHSE. "We need to hold our new president and Congress responsible for ensuring that all students are prepared for college and the 21st century workplace by enacting policies that hold schools accountable for student success."

The achievement gap is most prevalent among black male students. In 2007, only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school, compared to 75 percent of white males, and research shows that these men are more likely than their white peers to live in poverty, experience poor health and be incarcerated later in life.

CHSE recommends federal education policies that hold high schools accountable for student success; provide schools with adequate resources, based on data that indicate which schools and students are most in need; and provide school districts with the flexibility to implement a variety of high school models that support different learning styles and student realities. At a congressional briefing on February 12, 2009, CHSE will outline its policy priorities for improving student outcomes regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, including recommendations related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"While we are pleased that the Act is expected to provide much-needed education funding for states, more needs to be done to fully address America's education crisis," said Wotorson. "High schools must be included in all dialogue about education reform, funding and policy at the federal level."

CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing communities of color that is focused on high school education reform. Members include the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National Indian Education Association, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.



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