Rep. Fattah Cites Unequal Educational Opportunity as National Defense Threat

Dec 21, 2010, 17:23 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), preparing legislation designed to compel equal access to educational opportunity across school districts, today pointed to a significant new report that documents the little-understood impact of educational disparities on military recruiting.

The Education Trust's report released today, "Shut Out of the Military: Today's High School Education Doesn't Mean You're Ready for Today's Army," cites compelling evidence of the effect of inequitable educational opportunity on the ability of Americans to serve in the military.

The report finds that almost one-quarter (23 percent) of recent high school graduates fail the enlistment entrance exam for the armed services. That number is considerably higher for African Americans – 39 percent of whom do not reach the qualifying minimum score, versus 16 percent of White applicants and 29 percent of Hispanics.

The Education Trust report comes as Fattah, the Congressional champion for leveling the playing field between rich and poor school districts, prepares to reintroduce his Student Bill of Rights Act in the 112th Congress.

"In this major report by the Education Trust, we can see the effect of our broken and inequitable education system upon national defense preparedness and the opportunities open to our young people," said Fattah, just re-elected to his ninth term from Philadelphia.

"All too often, our schools are failing in their main mission: to graduate young men and women who are prepared to take advantage of life's opportunities, whether that means higher education, a good-paying job, or enlistment in the military. And all too often, some schools lack the resources to fulfill that mission," Fattah said. "The Student Bill of Rights proposes an end to inadequate and inequitable educational opportunity that leads to these disparities."

The Education Trust report finds that, in addition to the gap between African-American and White applicants, there are significant racial disparities between and within states. Less half of African-American high school graduates in Mississippi who seek to enlist pass the eligibility exam, while 74 percent of African-American applicants in Arizona met the standard.

To link to the complete report by the Education Trust:

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah