WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 400 thought leaders in education, child advocates, researchers and policymakers from across the nation gathered in Washington, D.C., today to discuss strategies to close opportunity gaps for the 1.8 million young Black men, ages 15–19, living in the United States. Co-sponsored by Education Testing Service (ETS) and the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the symposium, Black Male Teens: Moving to Success in the High School Years, focused on highly effective programs that help prepare Black male teens for college, work and productive lives.
"Only 52 percent of Black males graduate from high school in four years, compared with 78 percent of White males," said Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President of ETS's Policy Evaluation Research Center. "One in four African-American students attends a dropout factory — a high school where the senior class consists of less than 60 percent of the freshmen who enrolled four years earlier."
"Ensuring a quality education for all children is the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. American schools are failing Black young men, leaving them unprepared for college and career opportunities. Schools with 90 percent or more students of color spend $733 less per student per year than schools with 90 percent or more White students," said Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of CDF. "Our nation can ill afford to continuously lose talented students and our future leaders because we failed to act."
While highlighting data from a statistical profile of this key population distributed at the event, Nettles told attendees, "Over the course of his or her lifetime, a single high school dropout costs the nation approximately $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity. And, while the national unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent in August 2012, joblessness among those without a high school degree measured 12 percent."
The symposium highlighted effective practices schools and communities should focus on to ensure the success of Black males in high school:
- Providing rigorous high-quality curriculum and instruction for college and career readiness
- Establishing safe, positive, supportive and welcoming school environments
- Creating opportunities for youth to build skills and capital for college and career success outside of the classroom
Throughout the event, organizations and individuals offered shining examples of success and attainment, including Cedric Jennings of the District of Columbia Youth Advisory Council whose story is recounted in the book by Ron Suskind, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, and Michael Tubbs of the Langston Hughes Academy. Tubbs' mother was 16 years old when he was born, and his father was in jail. Tubbs defied the odds and earned a bachelor's degree with honors and a master's degree in policy, organization and leadership studies from Stanford University.
Tubbs is an alumnus of the Children's Defense Fund's Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) program. YALT is an action-oriented training series for young leaders to empower them to take national, state, and local action for freedom, justice, and social progress. These young leaders reroute the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® from the road to despair to the path to college, community service and successful adulthood.
Robert Balfanz, co-Director of the Everyone Graduates Center and a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, spoke about what is needed to ensure that high school provides a fertile staging ground for college success and career readiness. He is also the co-Director of Talent Development Secondary, which is currently working with more than 100 high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive whole school reforms. In addition, Balfanz is a co-Operator of the Baltimore Talent Development High School, an Innovation High School run in partnership with the Baltimore City Public Schools System.
Cassius Johnson, Program Officer for the Carnegie Corporation of New York, delivered the keynote address. Johnson works on the foundation's New Designs for K–16 Pathways program, which identifies, cultivates and supports organizations working to design and implement innovative and effective school designs, including those that use people, time, money and technology differently in K–16 education.
Edelman stated in her closing remarks, "The greatest threat to America's economic and military security comes from no foreign enemy but from our own failure to invest in the education of our children. Seventy-five percent of 17- to 24-year-olds are not eligible for military service due to poor literacy levels and health-related problems. It is time that we close the gap between what we know works to educate our Black male teens and what we do."
Other inspirational leaders featured during the symposium included Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project, Tim King of the Urban Prep Academies, David Osher of the American Institutes for Research, David Banks of The Eagle Academy Foundation and Stacy Holland of the Philadelphia Youth Network.
At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC ® tests, the GRE ® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org
The Children's Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown. CDF began in 1973 and is a private, nonprofit organization supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations. www.childrensdefense.org
SOURCE Educational Testing Service