May 17, 2014 will mark the 60th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, which ruled segregation in the American school system as unconstitutional. With the goal of integrating schools, but also ensuring that all children have access to an equal education and can excel academically, the verdict in this case marked a major milestone in the Civil Rights Movement. While progress has been made since the 1954 decision, the educational opportunities for America’s minority children are still on the debate table, as the achievement gap among black and white children remains prevalent.
Below are five hard facts and statistics that prove our work still isn’t done in achieving equal education opportunities for all American children.
1. Graduation rates: Our country recently celebrated a historic high in 2012 with 80% of the nation’s students graduating high school. Yet, black students graduated at a below-average rate of 69%. To make these statistics even more alarming, a study from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project shows that black men who do not complete high school have a 70% chance of going to prison.
2. Reading and math scores: Results from the National Assessment of Education Progress for the 2013 school year show that in math, only 7% of black students test proficient compared with 33% of their white peers, and 16% are proficient in reading compared with 47% of white students. The Washington Post reports Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking on the disappointing test results that have remained stagnant for years saying, “We must regret education stagnation in our high schools, and as a nation, we must do better for all students, especially for African American and Latino students.”
3. School suspension rates: Data from the Department of Education show that disproportionate suspension rates affect black children as early as the preschool level. According to the data, black children make up 18% of kids enrolled in preschool programs, but constitute 48% of students suspended more than once.
4. College enrollment: Studies from 2011 show that 42% of young adults ages 18 to 24 enrolled in college, with just 15.1% of those students being black, which believe it or not is an increase of 3.4 percentage points since 2000.
5. Ban on affirmative action: There are five states in our country with a ban on affirmative action, with Michigan recently being added to the list when an April 2014 decision by the Supreme Court upheld a Michigan voter initiative to ban racial preferences in the admissions process at state public universities. According to The New York Times, each state that has banned affirmative action now has a lower enrollment of black and Hispanic students at their public universities.