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The recently released, Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, details graduation rates of Black males. It also documents a systemic lack of equity in the quality of educational supports and resources for Black and Latino students. The resulting “opportunity gap,” according to the study’s findings creates barriers to academic success, social progress, and feeds high incarceration rates.

In the foreword to the report, Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, said that in asking how to fix the system, Schott reinforces that Black lives do matter.

“I am pleased to say that Schott is asking and answering the right questions. In Black Lives Matter: Schott’s 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, Schott declines to wonder aloud what might be wrong with the least advantaged in our communities, and instead asks the deeper, more profound question, ‘What is wrong with the system?” Alexander said.

District of Columbia Public Schools placed among the lowest ranked for Black males, with a 56.3 percent graduation rate, 7.4 percent pass rate on the Grade 8 National Assessment of Educational Progress

(NAEP) Reading proficiency, and a 14.3 percent rate of suspension in 2012. This data, when assessed against neighboring Maryland, shows a 66.3 percent rate of graduation just across the state line, a 17.8 percent pass rate of the Grade 8 NAEP Reading proficiency, and an 8.35 percent suspension rate.

“Because Black lives matter, what we choose to do about educational inequity, matters. It matters that we provide quality education and employment opportunities. It matters that we give our young people good reason to dream. If we truly believe that Black lives matter we must prove it, by accepting the challenge offered by this report and getting to work building a country that affords dignity and opportunity to us all.”

The report, released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education also found Black students are consistently disciplined at a higher rate than their White peers, despite no evidence of higher rates of school misbehavior.

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Dr. Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the lead researcher on the report, said, “Systemic reforms must be made at all levels to address educational disparities that are consigning many Black and Latino males to lives of poverty and perpetuating an inequality of economic and social status – something that both weakens our country and threatens our democracy.”

Proposed action steps and outlines include: student-centered educational programs that align academic, social, and health support systems; a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions, which disproportionately target Black and Latino students; and private sector programs and community networks that provide role models and supports to help young people in low-income communities prepare for professional success.

“On the heels of several recent tragedies and acts of violence that have brought increased attention to the alarming racial divide in our nation, report reveals a quieter destructive force related to racial injustice: educational inequality,” said Schott Foundation President and CEO John H. Jackson. “Investing in young Black males produces results that are an asset to our society. There are currently over 2 million Black males who are college graduates and over 1 million enrolled in college. Positioning young people to graduate from high school with a solid foundation creates a pathway out of poverty and toward social mobility.”