Black males still far behind whites in high-school graduation

Black males trail white males in high-school graduation by an average of 28 percent nationally and in Ohio by 30 percent, according to a new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Over the past 25 years, the social, educational, and economic outcomes for black males have been devastating, and the new report from the Schott Foundation, Given Half a Chance: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males (see here), reveals a national graduation rate of a shocking 47 percent. Frankly, it's bad enough that only 75 percent of white males graduate, but that less than half of black males receive diplomas is deeply troubling. In Ohio, it's 49 percent vs. 79 percent.

The report notes that, in 10 states and the District of Columbia, there is a graduation gap of at least 30 percent between black males and white males. Oddly, the state with one of the highest graduation rate for white males-Wisconsin, at 87 percent-has one of the lowest graduation rate for blacks, at 36 percent. The report also found graduation problems for blacks tended to be concentrated in a few large urban areas, where graduation rates are low for both races.

It's not a uniformly bleak picture, however. In some states black males actually graduate at higher rates than white males-Vermont, for example, where 88 percent of blacks graduate compared with 75 percent of whites, and Maine (85 percent vs. 75 percent). The report credits this to more support, including larger numbers of talented teachers and supportive administrators. These states have challenging curricula and high expectations for all students. They also lack large black populations, so black males are more likely to go to school in a diverse educational environment.

Unfortunately, a lack of educational achievement is only the tip of the iceberg for black males, who, statistically, suffer more chronic unemployment, more health problems, have lower life expectancies, and are more likely to spend long periods in prison. Gov. Ted Strickland recognizes the magnitude of this problem and early in his term appointed former State Sen. C.J. Prentiss as his special representative for closing the achievement gap and raising the graduation rate for black males in Ohio (see here).

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