Black America's Education Crisis - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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In January, Kelley Williams-Bolar served nine days in jail and was sentenced to two years of probation after being convicted of grand theft and two felony counts of falsifying records. Her crime? Sending her children to a school four miles outside her district of residence in Akron, Ohio.

The divorced mother of two says she falsified school documents because she was concerned about the safety of her two young daughters. “I wanted them to stay at my father’s after school,” she says. “I didn’t want my girls going home to an empty apartment that had recently been burglarized.” She says her decision to enroll her daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn school district wasn’t because the schools her daughters would have attended in 2006 had received a ranking of “Academic Watch,” the state’s second-lowest ranking, in 2008, or because Copley-Fairlawn had merited the state’s top rating, “Excellent with Distinction.”

Yet in this era of achievement gaps, education reform, and education budget cuts, Williams-Bolar’s story caught the attention of people nationwide who either rallied for her acquittal or applauded her punishment. Seemingly overnight she became an unwitting symbol of the nation’s glaring educational inequities, the powerlessness of the poor, and the four-mile chasm that separates “Excellent with Distinction” from “Academic Watch.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.