Achievement Gap Trio

In today’s newspapers, but hardly news. Hey, it’s August, cut those reporters some slack!

The Washington Post finds Special-Ed Racial Imbalance Spurs Sanctions in Maryland.

“The Anne Arundel school system is 21 percent black. But in that system, blacks make up 43 percent of students who are considered mentally retarded, 36 percent of the special-ed population taught in separate classes and 41 percent of suspensions.”

“Diane Black, director of special education in Anne Arundel, said she was aware of the disparity and is working to correct it. Part of the problem, she said, is that special education is so generously funded that teachers in regular classrooms have come to think of it as a safety net for all manner of academic and behavioral malaise.”

[One Eduwonk reader writes in to add: The county has been far from receptive to our efforts to start a charter school for low-income kids in Annapolis (where the vast majority of black county students live). The kicker? Our charter school is a KIPP school! KIPP has a great track record of proving that students previously labeled “special education” can achieve at high levels if they are educated in a rigorous program with high expectations for all.]

Meanwhile, NY Times takes another tack: Little Known Crisis At Black Colleges.

“For some 185 incoming freshmen like him, and indeed for Texas Southern as an institution, the summer courses in reading, writing, and math form one front in a battle to reverse a disturbingly low graduation rate. Of the students who received diplomas last May, only 6 percent had earned their degree in the normal four years, and only 21 percent in six years. Those numbers, incredibly, reflected improvement from prior rates.”

The low grad rate of historically black colleges is little known: I wasn’t really aware of the frightening stats until our small charter school sent three kids Virginia State from our first graduating class (you go Naman, Shante, Ashley), and two to Spelman in our second.

Big picture, though: the 38% 6-year graduation rate for HBCUs is just “slightly lower than the figure for black students at all other institutions.”

Translation: this sounds like more of a K-12 Achievement Gap issue than a collegiate one.

Luckily, key K-12 stakeholders in big cities are firmly committed to doing nothing!

– Guest blogger MG

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