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Beyond Statistics: African Americans and Education

by Meta J. Mereday

Learning or Lagging: What is the story on African Americans and Education?

 

            Janks Morton had a story to tell or he had a story that he needed to correct regarding African Americans and education.

In his piece, “Hoodwinked,” Morton wanted to set the record straight regarding ongoing statistics that paint negative pictures about African Americans and education, especially African American males. 

He addressed the distortions in statistics stating, “For over 400 years, the majority White society has used many tools to reinforce a message that the peoples of African descent are less-than, not-equal-too or not-good enough.

“In this modern era of information, the media, government and special interests use statistics to further promote the message of Black inferiority.”

According to Morton’s research, there are statistical disparities that are highlighted on purpose and used to play to the media and not to provide accurate data

“My research gave me insights as to how 21st century ‘information overload’ can lead to all types of statistical confusion. Too often in our discourse we combine the economic, the educational, employment and social statistics to form a distorted perception of the modern-era African American experience.

“Couple that with the constant bombardment by news outlets and entertainment media of the less-than-desirable Black behaviors; consequently you have a people who are ill equipped to stand confident in their own achievements.”

 A recent report released by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center highlighted Morton’s statements about the spin on research involving African Americans and education.

The report states that nearly half of young men of color ages 15 to 45 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead. 

Among the key recommendations following this report include increasing partnerships between the community, businesses and schools, as well as increased funding for improving professional development training and teacher education programs.

However, there are others who believe that these studies and their related “improvement” recommendations are a major part of the problem.

In his article, “The Education of Minority Children,” Thomas Sowell explains, “For those who are interested in schools that produce academic success for minority students, there is no lack of examples, past and present.  Tragically, there is a lack of interest by the public school establishment in such examples.  Again, I think this goes back to the politics of education.

 “Put bluntly, failure attracts more money than success. Politically, failure becomes a reason to demand more money, smaller classes, and more trendy courses and programs, ranging from ‘Black English’ to bilingualism and ‘self-esteem.’ Politicians who want to look compassionate and concerned know that voting money for such projects accomplishes that purpose for them and voting against such programs risks charges of mean-spiritedness, if not implications of racism.”

Monk wrapped up his piece by featuring statistics that he even states are not as well publicized as others stating, “Because, as I see it, the ratings, the notoriety, and the funding will always promote the negative statistics about Black Americans.” 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratio of African American males in college versus those incarcerated is four to one and the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the drop out rate is just over 12 percent. Therefore, the focus on African Americans and education should include all the facts, positive as well as negative, to showcase not only the areas that are lagging but also the success stories where the real learning is taking place in our community.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men's Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.




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