In February 2015, the Schott Foundation released its latest report on the four-year graduation rates for Black and Latino males compared to other groups, highlighting how persistent systemic disparities in opportunity create a climate and perception of populations less-valued.
Black Lives Matter reports that national 2012-13 graduation rates were 59% for Black males, 65% for Latino males and 80% for White males. Major differences among the states show that graduation rates could be significantly higher for all.
New Jersey (75%) and Tennessee (70%) were the only states with significant Black male enrollments with Black male graduation rates of 70% or more. The ten lowest ranked states for Black males are spread across the Southwest, South and Midwest. Nevada leads the list of abysmal results with graduation rates of 40% for Black males, 44% for Latino males, and 62% for White males. The states in the bottom ten for both Black and Latino male graduation rates are Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington, DC.
Explaining the larger context, Black Lives Matter points out that “Black males in America have been cast in a light far too negative for their actual contributions to family, community, democracy, and country. There are over two million Black male college graduates and over one million enrolled in college today. Black households in general dedicate 25% more?of their income to charities than White households and Black males comprise one of the largest percentages of American veterans. Yet, in the face of these positive attributes, the systemic treatment, outcomes and portrayal of Black males in key systems like education, labor, and justice are largely negative.”
Black Lives Matter also reports results in the urban school districts with the largest Black male enrollments. Montgomery County, MD enrolls over 16,000 Black males, who graduate in four years at a rate of 74%. On the other end of the spectrum, Clark County (Las Vegas), NV enrolls over 20,000 Black males students with a four-year graduation rate of only 22%. The New York City school district, with 1.1 million preK-12 students has the largest Black male enrollment of in the nation at almost 144,000 and has a four-year graduation rate of 28%.
The report proposes specific action steps and components for healthier and comprehensive learning systems, some of which need to be sustained through state and local budgets, including:
- Student-centered educational programs that align academic, social and health support systems.
- The Opportunity To Learn Campaign, which calls for high quality early education, equitable funding and resources, and other measures.
- A moratorium on out-of-school suspensions, which disproportionately target Black and Latino students for behaviors that do not lead to suspensions for Whites.
- Community networks and private sector programs that provide role models and supports to help young people in low-income communities prepare for professional success.
- Consistent state and local data collection and reporting of graduation rates, disaggregated by race and gender.
“Because Black lives matter,” writes Michelle Alexander in the foreword of the report, “what we choose to do about educational inequity matters. It matters that we give our young people good reason to dream … [and we must get] to work building a country that affords dignity and opportunity to us all.” Alexander is a professor of law and authored “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
Molly A. Hunter
Education Justice Director
973-624-1815, x 19
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications