Thursday, May 26, 2005

Black leaders present concerns to S.D. board

Maureen Magee:

Black civic leaders from across the city held a rally yesterday outside San Diego school district headquarters and urged the Board of Education to improve the education of their children.

Activists presented trustees with a list of demands to address low academic performance and the high rates of dropping out, suspensions and expulsions among black students.

"It's really going to take a massive movement to change things for our kids," said Shirley Weber, executive director of the Association of African American Educators and a former city school trustee.

Calling themselves the African American Education Coalition, the organizers – top officials from the local NAACP, the Urban League and other groups – want their concerns taken into consideration as the San Diego Unified School District searches for a new superintendent. Alan Bersin will step down from the post June 30 and the board hopes to find a successor before school starts in September.

The coalition pointed to statistics that show minority students are often failed by public schools.

Harvard University's Civil Rights Project recently released a report that puts California's high-school graduation rate at just over 70 percent, and shows that half of black, Latino and American Indian students fail to earn diplomas.

Black students also performed poorly on the High School Exit Exam administered to 10th-graders during the 2003-2004 academic year. Asians were the top performers, with an 80 percent pass rate, while whites had a pass rate of 74 percent. Lagging behind were Hispanics and blacks at 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

The school district also has a history of disciplining black students at a rate disproportionate to their population.

Trustee Shelia Jackson said the achievement gap between white students and black and other minority students is part of a broader, statewide problem.

Why is it that when black students underperform white students, it is the schools that get blamed? After all, if the schools were so bad wouldn't all of the students have gotten poor grades?


At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Ian said...

This is one of the reasons why I find Detroit fascinating. It's population is at least 75% African-American. The mayor is black, the city council is black, schoold board, etc. In the last census, 100,000 African-Americans fled the city. In some cities, it is getting harder to find someone to blame.

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