When it comes to K-12 education, African-Americans have seldom had much of a choice. This was exemplified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that declared separate was not equal and that African-Americans had little choice but to attend inferior segregated schools. More than six decades later — with a majority of America’s public school students now nonwhite and in a century dominated by educational notions of “school choice” — some feel little has changed.
“We are in critical condition,” says Dr. Chike Akua, an award-winning educator, speaker, author and teacher trainer. “Many of the schools our children attend are failing schools where they are not even leaving with basic skills.” The Atlanta-based educator insists there “needs to be a dramatic transformation from the top to the bottom, and then from the bottom back to the top.”
Consistent with Akua’s words, contemporary indicators of success still find African-American students struggling at the bottom. U.S. Department of Education figures reveal, at grade 4, the white-Black gap in reading in 2013 (26 points) was not measurably different than in 1992 and, at grade 12, this gap was larger in 2013 (30 points) than in 1992. Also, in 2012, the percentage of both Black male and female students suspended from school was more than twice the percentage of whites and other groups. (Atlanta Black Star)