Black America’s Education Crisis

... and what you can do about it

Not everyone is convinced that charter schools alone are black America’s saving grace. The NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers brought a lawsuit against New York City in an effort to keep 20 failing public schools open instead of transitioning them into charter schools. The lawsuit accused the city of New York of creating and funding a two-tiered, separate and unequal education system that favors charter schools, which educate only 4% of the city’s students. In Detroit, a similar scenario is being played out as plans are under way to transition 41 of Detroit’s 142 public schools into charter schools against the wishes of many parents and community leaders.

And not all charter schools are successful. A Stanford University study revealed that 17% of charter schools provide education that exceeds local public schools, while nearly half are no different, and 37% are significantly worse. The schools that have been successful attribute it to a multifaceted approach that includes: an extended school day, a longer school year, a college prep curriculum, increased professional development for teachers, fiscal and managerial accountability, and parental and community involvement.

Q & A with U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan comes to his post with a unique personal advantage. He is probably the only education secretary in history who spent his childhood playing with, learning alongside, and tutoring low-income black students in an after-school program (run by his mother). He also took a year off from Harvard to work in the program, and credits it with informing his understanding of urban education. Duncan, who has been called a “moral force,” recently sat down to talk with black enterprise about the state of education in the U.S. today, what the federal government is doing to improve it, and the challenges that lie ahead for our nation’s young people.

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