Tag: Saving Black Men


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America’s Woeful Public Schools: PISA Shows That We Are Falling Behind Internationally


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17th The rank of America’s 15-year-olds in reading literacy rank among 65 countries that participated in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, one of the premiere benchmarks of student…

17th

The rank of America’s 15-year-olds in reading literacy rank among 65 countries that participated in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, one of the premiere benchmarks of student achievement. The nation’s average score of 500 ranked behind Shanghai (China), South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong and sixteen other countries — and just ahead of tiny Liechtenstein and Sweden.

24th

The rank of America’s 15-year-olds on the math literacy portion of PISA. The average score of 487 was nine points lower than the average PISA score.

27

The percentage of American students scoring at the highest level of proficiency on PISA. That’s lower than the 32 percent average for the 33 OECD countries participating in the exam.

488

The average reading score for American males on the reading portion of PISA; that’s 25 points lower than the average reading score for their female peers. As a country, American males would rank 28th in the world, immediately behind the U.K., Hungary and Portugal.

466

The average PISA reading score for Latino students; as a country, the performance of Latino students would rank 41st in the world, behind Israel, Luxembourg, Austria and Lithuania.

441

The average PISA reading score for black students; as a country, that would rank 46th, behind Russia, Chile and Serbia.

The nation’s poor performance on PISA exemplifies the failures of reading instruction, laggard curricula and the overall culture of mediocrity within American public education. If we do not improve how we recruit, train and compensate teachers,  develop more-rigorous curricula and standards, and develop a culture of genius within our schools, the gender, racial and economic achievement gaps will continue to grow. It’s that simple.

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Rewind: The Dropout Nation Podcast: Read to Your Boys


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For those further interested in learning how to solve America’s reading crisis — especially among young boys — that I discussed earlier this week in The American Spectator, listen to…

For those further interested in learning how to solve America’s reading crisis — especially among young boys — that I discussed earlier this week in The American Spectator, listen to one of Dropout Nation’s most-popular podcasts. As I’ve noted, young men (and women) who have difficulty reading will also struggle with math and their other studies, contributing to low academic achievement and exacerbating the nation’s dropout crisis.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod, MP3 player or smartphone. Also, subscribe to the podcast series. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry, Podcast Alley, the Education Podcast NetworkZune Marketplace and PodBean.

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The Dropout Nation Podcast: Using School Reform to Build a Nation of Millions


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On this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, I discuss how Black America can use school reform and embrace entrepreneurship in order to expand our presence in corporate suites and other areas…

Dropout Nation Podcast CoverOn this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast, I discuss how Black America can use school reform and embrace entrepreneurship in order to expand our presence in corporate suites and other areas of American economic and social power. As wonderful as it may be to see the success of Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, we need a nation of millions of strong, well-educated African-American men and women to achieve long-lasting success. This, by the way, also applies to Latino and other minorities.

You can listen to the Podcast at RiShawn Biddle’s radio page or download directly to your iPod, MP3 player or smartphone. Also, subscribe to the podcast series. It is also available on iTunes, Blubrry, Podcast Alley, the Education Podcast Network and Zune Marketplace.

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Three Questions: Michael Holzman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education


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As Research Consultant for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Michael Holzman has helped shed light on the impact of low teacher quality and systemic academic failure on the educational…

Photo courtesy of the Schott Foundation for Public Education

As Research Consultant for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Michael Holzman has helped shed light on the impact of low teacher quality and systemic academic failure on the educational and economic prospects of young black men. Through his research, Holzman and Schott have done plenty to show in numbers the depths of the nation’s dropout crisis: Few young black men are graduating from school; far too many are being relegated into special education (and placed on the path to dropping out); and that in many urban districts, young black men are subject to the kind of educational abuse that would lead to incarceration for school officials and teachers if it were actual physical abuse. Along with Robert Balfanz, Jay P. Greene and Christopher Swanson, Holzman is one of the leading figures in revealing the nation’s educational decay.

Dropout Nation wondered what reformers such as Holzman were thinking these days, what are some of the surprising conclusions they have reached, and what they think about what’s happening inside the Beltway when it comes to school reform. The result is a new series, Three Questions on School Reform. Holzman offers some of his thoughts below. Read them, give them some thought and, if you so choose, comment and offer your own conclusions:

1) What is the one surprising thing you have uncovered during your research on special education and over-labeling of children as learning disabled and why?

Male African-American students are systematically over-labeled as Mentally Retarded in most districts.  In some cases this reaches levels five to ten times the percentage of male White, non-Latino males.  As percentages of non-institutionalized mental retardation in any large population are approximately the same, this over-labeling seems to be caused by district policies or staff training deficiencies.

2) How is black male academic failure and special ed connected and why?

Given that male African-American students are under-represented in gifted/talented programs in most districts, and very under-represented in Advanced Placement classes, it appears that racial and gender stereotyping takes place in those districts, to the great detriment of opportunities for learning for male African American, and, to a lesser extent, female African American and both male and female Latino and American Indian students.

3) What is the one thing school reform activists inside the Beltway seem to ignore when it comes to addressing education and youth issues and why?

Equal opportunity to learn includes opportunities during traditional k-12 class-time and beyond.  All schools should be equally well-supported, without regard to location and family income.  This means that real estate tax-based school finance methods are inherently inequitable.  It means that variations in the quality of facilities, curriculum and teaching staffs among schools within large districts cannot be rationally justified.  It means that the distribution of students through assignment or “voluntary” methods, as with charters and public school choice, are only equitable when the child least able to protect him/herself is protected by the adults responsible for the schools.

It also means that the educational investments available to the children of middle class families should be provided for children living in poverty by those adults responsible for the schools.  Such investments include 0-3 pre-literacy activities (such as library programs for toddlers), pre-kindergarten programs preparing children for schooling, all-day kindergarten, after-school and summer academic programs, throughout elementary and secondary school.

Another issue, which is not well-framed in most policy discussions is the connection between inadequate schooling and incarceration.  This is not merely a school to prison pipeline.  It is a feedback loop.  As astonishing numbers of male African Americans are imprisoned, it follows that between one-third and half of African American children grow up in poverty, raised by their mothers without financial contributions from their imprisoned fathers (or fathers whose income possibilities have been impaired by involvement with the courts and prisons).

Poverty is a major negative factor in regard to educational achievement, limiting the time of the parents as first teachers, limiting out-of-school educational investments, increasing the likelihood of enrollment in inferior schools.  And limited educational achievement, especially for male African Americans, is highly likely to lead to prison.

There are two lines of work that can break this cycle:  1) End the inequitable targeting of African Americans for drug law infractions; 2)  Make educational investments equitable.

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This Is Dropout Nation: Why Reading Matters — the Boys Can’t Read


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For an understanding of why the graduation rate for young males of nearly all genders are far lower than that of their female counterparts, consider the results on the reading…

Read to your son. It will give him the best start in life.

For an understanding of why the graduation rate for young males of nearly all genders are far lower than that of their female counterparts, consider the results on the reading section of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress and the test results from NAEP over the past two decades.

Thirty-six percent of fourth-grade boys read Below Basic proficiency compared to 30 percent of their female classmates, according to the test; the average scale score for boys of 218 was six points lower for that of girls in the same grade. But the biggest differences aren’t just at the low end of the scale. The percentages of male 4th-graders reading at Basic levels of proficiency and higher is lower than that of females.

As you can see, this is a long-term trend, with boys trailing girls in reading by fairly wide margins over the past couple of decades (and even longer, based on the study of the long-term NAEP data extending back into the 1970s). It is also present by income. As Richard Whitmire, the author of Why Boys Fail, notes, one in every four young boys with college-educated parents is reading below basic proficiency.

The consequences of low reading proficiency extends beyond test scores. Students with low reading levels tend to exhibit aggressive classroom behavior by third grade. Why? Very likely, it is because a child who can’t read slowly realizes that they are falling behind their peers. Add in the lack of intensive reading remediation by schools and the falling behind becomes a reality. Especially in subjects such as math, which involves word problems along with computations at the higher grades. A sixth-grader who fails math (and misses more than 10 days of classes) has just a one-in-sixth chance of graduating on time, notes Johns Hopkins researcher Robert Balfanz.

Schools need to improve their reading curricula and offer intensive reading remediation. At the same time, parents and the rest of us will have to take our own action: Read to our boys ourselves.

Listen to the Dropout Nation Podcast on boys and reading this Sunday.

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The Best of Dropout Nation: April Edition


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Check out some of the coverage of the reform of public education that caused waves last month: Dallas teacher Bill Betzen and Charter Insights‘ Doug Hering told readers how institutions…

Dropout Nation Podcast Cover

Check out some of the coverage of the reform of public education that caused waves last month:

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