Report: Black males graduating at slower rates


The graduation rates for black males in Oakland mirrors the national numbers in this report. But this is a problem Oakland educators are working diligently to solve.

There is a crisis in Oakland schools. The graduation rate for black students is just shy of 50 percent and for other races it is 70 percent.

Why black students in this largely African-American city aren't graduating at the same pace is one of the problems principals are trying in vain to find solutions to during summer meetings held even before students head back to school.

They now have a goal.

"We are saying in the next four years, we have to double the graduation rate of African-American males," Superintendent of Schools Tony Smith said.

A new study by the Massachusetts-based Schott Foundation found that Oakland is hardly alone. The report concluded that schools around the country are "systemically failing black males."

Nationally, the graduation rate for black male high school students is just 47 percent. In California, the numbers are only slightly better -- a 54 percent graduation rate for African-American males -- 78 percent for whites.

Black males in New York City and Philadelphia school districts fared among the worst, with a 28 percent graduation rate. They did the best in New Jersey.

Experts say money and a historic lack of it in urban districts is to blame.

"Most import is the overarching inequality of distribution of educational resources in this country," UC Berkeley African American Studies professor Na'ilah Nasir, Ph.D. said.

The report also says black males are punished more and given less opportunities in class than their white peers.

Oakland educators say it is possible to make a lasting change. Principal Brandi Patterson, whose own mother had a fifth grade education, says she's living proof that teachers can and do make a difference.

"You have such a great opportunity to impact the students in ways that you will never see, and it lasts a lifetime," she said.

Some educators and the expert ABC7 spoke to also blame what they view as failed educational programs at the federal level, including the No Child Left Behind Act. The emphasis on test scores, they say, has set many African-American boys up for failure.

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