Blacklisted in Public Education

Dennis J. Freeman is the editorial director for Ali
By Dennis J. Freeman

Black boys in this country are on the outside looking in when it comes to achieving the American Dream. Getting a basic high school education has now become a foreign idea to many of these young men. A report released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education in 2009, show that black students across the board are at an disadvantage when it comes to receiving an opportunity to learn.

The Schott 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America tells us that only 47% of black students receive the basic fundamentals of an education. The statistics on the state of black boys in the public education arena are uglier.  The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education for Black Males, released in 2008, reveal that more than half of the black males in this country did not even pick up a high school diploma during the 2005-06 school year.

This is not a good trend for the future of black Americans in this country. It is also not a good direction to admire in regards to our young black males. Why is this happening? And what do we need to do to reverse this avalanche of education inequity? Well, as the nation’s economy continues to flutter and unemployment rates soar, getting an education has become the call to a better future.

Unfortunately, that message hasn’t been delivered with top priority to our black boys.  It’s no secret that getting a quality education gives you the right equipment to help you compete in this competitive world. As a high school dropout, I quickly realized I had no advantage to making my life better without getting a high school diploma and earning a degree from college.

I was stuck working in menial jobs with no room for advancement. Needless to say, I got it together and found myself walking across the stage at an esteemed historically black college as a journalism graduate.

But how many other young black men find themselves on the outs of society because of the lack of an education? Well, I tell you it’s way too many. The report also states that New York has three out of the 10 worst districts nationally, in terms of graduating black males, and that the million plus African American boys in that city as well in Florida and Georgia, are twice as likely not to receive diplomas as their peers.

Former President George W. Bush created an educational initiative to make it a mandate for every child to move forward in the education world. However, No Child Left Behind has not been able to stop the bleeding of black boys failing to get that quality education.  Unfortunately, minority students, particularly young black boys, are still sitting at the back of the bus when it comes to attaining education standards.

Hopefully, President Barack Obama’s push for better education for our young folks is a step in the right direction to right a deep wrong.  Besides absorbing President Obama’s education policies, we also have to make school fun again.

 Whatever happened to auto and industrial shops and home economics? Kids need a dash of creativity to even out their book curriculum. They don’t need to test every minute every day. Let’s stop that foolishness because the results are in and we’re still failing.

We’re failing because black boys are high in numbers when it comes to discipline issues and special education needs and low when considered to be gifted. To illustrate this point, let’s look at the state of Georgia. The state only graduated 40 percent of its black male high school students during 2005-6. Adding to this dire dilemma is the fact that black boys in Georgia were twice as likely to be classified as mentally retarded in comparison their white counterparts.

All this is just not happening in one state. It’s a national shame. This has to be fixed. Our black boys are falling to a life of drug dealing, being involved in gangs and making babies because no one has been there for them. We have to be there. We must provide mandatory tutoring.

The education system must get out of the box. Education has to come to the student whose mother is on crack. Educational mercy must be given to the child living out on the streets with no family. Without an education, a lot of these young people will be shortchanged from obtaining the American Dream.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1379 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.