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Friday, November 12, 2010

Crisis in Education- 7 Out of 10 Black Men Do Not Finish High School

Seven out of ten black men in New York City do not have:

Currently, here in New York City, only 28 percent of African-American males finish high school. This means 72 percent of brothers who start High School don’t graduate.

How does this affect the black community? Do the math:

The prison population is 70 percent African-American Males in the state of New York.

Unemployment is 80 percent among African-American men in New York City.

Most jobs today require an Associate Degree or higher education.

Only 5 percent of black males are enrolled in college nationwide since 2008.

Correlate the numbers in the statistics with what’s going on in the streets and they show a tragic pattern of what’s happening to black men who don’t graduate high school.

What’s more disturbing about these statistics are how the numbers have actually gotten WORSE since when I first started High School back in 1987. Back then, the dropout rate among black males was fifty percent. And that was during one of the worst periods in the history of education.

In that age I dealt with apathetic teachers, indifferent guidance counselors, predatory drug dealing thugs roaming the halls, and a crack pandemic happening outside on the streets. Public school was a war zone most brothers like me struggled to survive in. But somehow back then two more black men finished high school then than today. In this age of education reform and increasing standards, I’m wondering how the graduation numbers actually getting worse among black men than over 21 years ago.

What’s causing brothers to give up on school? Could it be the proliferation of a gangsta culture in the black community that sees fast money and crime as the symbol of success? Could it be the infestation of West Coast gangs like the Crips and Bloods in New York City Public Schools and inner-city neighborhoods? Could it be the propaganda of street/ urban Lit /Scarface glamorizing a life of crime? Could it be the lack of older, educated brothers available to provide role models and mentors for young black males? Could it be the African-American community no longer values education and sees it as “white”? Is it a lack of standards? Is it a lack of expectations or no expectations from black parents regarding black boys? Is it a lack of funding for public schools? Seriously, what’s causing brothers to stop pursuing their educations these days?

Something is clearly wrong with the way schools are teaching African-American males. If 7 of 10 white males were dropping out of high school and winding up in prison or unemployed, there’d be a Federal inquiry into why the education system was failing students and a complete overhaul of the education process across the country.

But when it comes to brothers, apathy has been the course of action over the past 20 years and continues to be the course of action today from black leaders. I don’t hear a word from the NAACP, The Urban League or even black churches regarding the struggles of black males in the educational system in a public forum. The silence of the black community is disturbing in the face of a crisis that could impact brothers and sisters for decades.

As a former student of the public schools in New York City, I can tell readers first hand that instead of being taught Reading Writing and Arithmetic, black males trying to get an education continue to be met with:

Resentment, from teachers who view black males as a threat instead of students in need of support or academic assistance,

Resistance, from guidance counselors and administrators in middle and high schools when they seek to resolve learning issues, conflicts with other students, or plan to pursue higher education,

and Racism, from academic institutions and a community that expects little of black males in terms of achievement.

Many young brothers feel there’s no value in a high school diploma because they don’t feel valued in school.

Worse, they don’t see a value in a High school diploma. Twenty years a high school diploma was the ticket to a career or a full-time job. Today it’ll get you into college. For a lot of brothers who struggle in school with resentment, resistance and racism, college not an incentive to finish High School. For them, it’s four more frustrating years of academic struggle, a huge debt load and no promises of middle-class employment. Many are giving up because they don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the face of such a large majority of black males dropping out of high school, the value of a high school diploma has to be redefined in the black community. There has to be more of an incentive for black males earning a high school diploma than college or a job. Black men need to be shown that knowledge is power and how knowledge empowers them to change their lives. If more brothers understood the value of a good education and how it applied to their daily lives, 7 out of 10 brothers would graduate high school instead of dropping out.


  1. Those statistics are outrageous, scary and down right unacceptable! Shocking is an understatement here.

  2. Yeah, those statistics are disturbing and they wouldn't be unacceptable in any other community. The African-American community must start getting more involved in the lives of black males to keep them in school.