Loop 21's 2012 Education Special
Loop 21 looks at education issues affecting our community.
In mid-September, President Barack Obama told a crowd in Golden, Colo., that, were it not for education, he and his wife, as people of color, would never have made it to the White House.
“Education was a gateway of opportunity for me,” Obama said. “You know, a mixed kid from Hawaii born to a single mom is not likely to become president of the United States. But in America, it can happen because of education, because somebody gave me opportunity…A little black girl from South Side of Chicago whose mom’s a secretary and dad’s a blue-collar worker, you know, not likely to become first lady of the United States. But it happened because she got a great education, even though her folks didn’t have a lot of money.”
While education is essential to success, many African-American children still do not have equal access to education at any level of the system, from kindergarten to university. African Americans are more likely to attend high-poverty schools and less likely than any other group to attend college. According to the National Education Policy Center, black students are suspended three times as often as white students. About 85 percent of young black men enter high school unable to read at proficient levels, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and a new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education says that only 52 percent of black ninth-grade boys finish high school in four years.
A study released last year by the U.S. Department of Education shows that even the teachers who work in predominantly African American and Latino schools are at a disadvantage, as they are paid approximately $2,500 less per year than the average teacher in other districts.
“America has been battling inequity in education for decades but these data show that we cannot let up,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Children who need the most too often get the least. It's a civil rights issue, an economic security issue and a moral issue.”
This week, Loop 21 is running an education special, looking at issues that affect the African American community. We began Monday with “Educating Black Boys,” a look at why young African American males tend to fare so poorly at school, and what can be done to improve their academic performance. Tuesday, we focused on what happens when people opt to drop out of school, with intimate looks at the lives of three young people in different communities, and today, we look at for-profit schools and also ask the question: how much will that degree really cost? Take our interactive quiz to find out. We will also cover President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks at the Education Nation Summit in New York, and look at trigger laws—laws that essentially allow parents to take over under-performing schools. Those laws were the inspiration for the movie “Won’t Back Down,” starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which opens this Friday.