We Need an All-In Effort to Combat Racial Disparities in Education
by Angela Glover Blackwell
Less than a week ago, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights released new data that illuminate disturbing racial inequities in education—inequities that prevent many students of color from reaching their full potential.
According to the report, black students are disproportionately suspended and expelled—even in preschool, where black students who comprise just 18 percent of enrollment represent almost half of all suspensions. While more than 70 percent of white students attend schools with a full range of math and science courses, the numbers are much lower for some communities of color: just over half of African American students; a little over two-thirds of Latino students, and less than half of Native Americans have access to these courses. These students of color are also more likely to have teachers who fail to meet state requirements or are first-year teachers.
This neglect and underinvestment in children of color hurts them, their communities, and the nation. By the end of this decade the majority of children in the country will be of color. If we squander their enormous potential, these children—and the nation—will suffer.
Bold solutions are needed to address these inequities. The Obama Administration is leading the way by shining a light on racial disparities and advancing initiatives to correct them. Efforts like Promise Neighborhoods that help children in poor communities succeed from the cradle to college to career, the new My Brother’s Keeper initiative to promote the achievement of boys and men of color, and jobs and infrastructure investments that target low-income neighborhoods and communities of color work to build ladders to opportunity for children and youth of color.
It’s time for our nation to eliminate these disparities by investing in children of color. Their future is the nation’s future. By giving these students opportunities to achieve academic success we will not only be fulfilling a moral obligation; we will be advancing an inclusive economy that works for all.