SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If you sat at a roulette table today and placed a five-dollar bill on red, you would have a 47.37 percent chance of winning that bet. The inverse of this is also true; you would have 52.63 percent chance of losing that same bet. Believe it or not, these odds are still substantially better than the likelihood of an African-American student reading on grade level by the time they reach the 4th grade in the United States today.
Last year, national statistics reflected that only 1 in 5 African American students are reading at grade level by the 4th grade. Even more startling is that only 1 and 7 are able to perform math at grade level by the 8th grade. If success is to ensure that each child is able to perform at grade level, these outcomes equate to 80 percent and 86 percent failure rates, respectively.
How is this even possible in the United States in 2016? How can America not see that the status quo is broken? How can the most innovative country in the world not drive a solution to our nation's greatest promise to our children? Where is the urgency?
The truth is the American Dream, while still alive, is more competitive than it has ever been. And each day that passes, marks another lost opportunity for our students, especially low-income African American girls and boys, to have a real shot at changing their socioeconomic outcomes. In fact, only four percent of children who begin their lives at the lowest socioeconomic rung will reach the top, meaning precious few will have the opportunity to live the Dream. We, the African American community can no longer wait on others to change these odds for our kids.
Quality education is the only way to substantially shift their life chances and life outcomes and this will only happen if we have high quality, effective schools in every community.
Spending time attributing blame for who is at fault for these realities will not get us any closer to driving toward solutions. As parents, teachers, principals and community leaders, we can all have a role in ensuring our schools are delivering on our nation's promise.
Today, only 4 percent of African American students are college ready in their core subjects upon graduation of high school. How can we expect our children to compete in a competitive global environment, let alone be gainfully employed, when they enter our universities at disproportionally, low rates and woefully underprepared?
If we, as a community, can remain focused in ensuring our schools provide the quality of education that every child deserves, we have the opportunity to dramatically improve these circumstances. Doing so will not be easy work. Strategies that must be considered are expanding school choice for all families (with a particular focus on low-income families); increasing accountability for schools, districts and teachers to ensure they are providing a high quality education; and bolstering parental and community engagement in meaningful ways.
If we adopt this work, we can actually change the trajectory of the performance of our students and subsequently positively shape the long-term outcomes for their lives and ultimately our community at-large. But this can only happen if we stay committed, if we stay focused and if we can exercise the courage to expect more of our students academically, to expect more of our teachers professionally, and to expect more of our parents socially.
In a casino, we know that if you play long enough the house always wins, but when it comes to education for our nation's students of color, the longer we play this game, the more we all lose. As leaders in this community, we can no longer wait. We can't wring our hands as the roulette ball spins… we must take action now. Co Signers-
Kevin Johnson- Mayor, Sacramento, CA
Dr. John S. Wilson, Jr. – President, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Dr. H. James Williams – President, Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, OH
Bishop Alexis Thomas - Pilgrim Baptist Church, Phoenix, AZ
Bishop Joseph Walker - Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Nashville, TN
Pastor Wayne Sheppard - Saint Matthew Christian Church, Sacramento, CA
Pastor Ray Owens - Metropolitan Baptist Church, Tulsa, OK
Pastor Darryl B. Heath – St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Sacramento, CA
Mr. Carlton Buford, President/Founder, AF-CMEA L.L.C.
Treasurer, Met Cares Foundation Board of Directors, Tulsa, OK
Mrs. Glenda Love, Interim Director, Wayman Tisdale Foundation, Tulsa, OK
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