Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jessie Jackson says parents need help (NAACP issues Call For Action In Education)

Jessie Jackson is calling for more parental involvement as we prepare to kick off another school term. As reported by Craig Dellimore, Jackson says some parents don't understand the consequences...or may not care. Jackson was specifically referring in part to the lost of some $150 million dollars in education funding in Cook County due of lower attendance.

Jackson further indicated that he and other ministers are working to see that parents get the extra help they need.

In addition, the NAACP has issued a Call For Action In Education. For a detailed review of this document, please visit and click on EDUCATION.

With respect to high-stakes testing, the civil rights organization notes that "high-stakes testing used to retain in grade or to deny diplomas based on a single test(including retakes), exacerbates the disparate impact of resource inequality for children of color."

"Rigorous assessment, including the use of standardized tests, has a legimate place in the learning process and in school reform. The NAACP believes, however, that is is unaccepatable to implement the high-stakes components of tests until federal, state, and local educational agencies are held accountable for ensuring that teachers have the necessary resources to teach and students have the resources needed to learn."

The NAACP's plan also includes a section on dropout rate reduction. The organization indicates that "Obtaining a high school diploma remains among the most promient points of demarcation between the "haves" and "have -nots" in American society" Compared to diploma recipients, those who earn a GED have a much higher rate of unemployment and are much more likely to need welfare or other forms of government assistance."

This national activity clearly helps us locally to understand priorities and needs within the black community.

If you have received a copy of the Learn to Learn brochure, it appears that distribution of that document helps to lay a foundation for local action and provide specific recommentations for parents to follow. It is not enough to talk about "parental involvement" without having a model in hand that can serve as common currency.

Refer to earlier posts on Culture, and Parental Involvement for more information.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

2007 Act Results

This site advocates academic competition for black children and the black community overall. We must not be afraid to compete. (THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS HIGH-STAKES TESTING WHICH WE STRONGLY OPPOSE).

2007 ACT results are in and the average Louisiana black child taking the ACT came in at 17.0. That means the average black child could not apply for TOPS money which requires a minimum ACT score of 20. And for the record, I do not believe the cutoff score of 20 is unfair.

Other scoring results were: Asian, 21.7; White,21.4; Other,20.7, Hispanic 20.2; All Students, 20.1 and American Indian, 19.8.

As a community, we need to support efforts to improve ACT results with targeted initiatives. Please use our link to ACT for a complete review of these results to include year over year trends. In addition, note the suggestions for improving scores and support the ones you can for students within your area of influence.

Otherwise, we as a community are leaving scholarship money on the table for no good and valid reason.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The New Black Leader

As expressed by John McWhorter in his well presented book called Winning The Race (Beyond The Crisis In Black America), I quote his description of the new black leader.

It makes sense to me and should serve as a standard for those appointed to or assuming a leadership role in the black community going forward:

"Any black leader, political or writerly, who is to have any serious effect on black Americans' lives must openly and conclusively let the frameworks of the Great Society ideology, treating blacks as helpless victims of factory relocation, middle-class snobbery, buildings' heights, "segregation," and the rest, pass into history. To insist that this frame of mind is the only way to address our problems as humane, informed citizens is to, unwittingly, leave millions of people to languish in idleness, unfocused cynicism, and misery."

He goes on to say, "The work that remains to be done is dedicating ourselves to letting the "whitey has to pay" routine go, and filtering all of our race politics through a constant awareness of that, with a deeply felt moral urgency. We must open ourselves to this even though racism still lurks here and there and capitalism is a hard business."

High-stakes Testing (LEAP)

The Louisiana NAACP has recently launched an initiative to call attention to the harmful effects of the LEAP test in this state. LEAP is administered in the 4Th and 8Th grades and students are retained if they do not pass the test.

The NAACP argues this test is not legal.

State NAACP president Ernest L. Johnson continues to press the issue with a letter to the editor that appeared in The Times on August 9, 2007. Mr. Johnson points out that "As a direct result of this unlawful use this year, more than 28,000 fourth and eighth-grade students in our public schools were recorded as failing the test. Please keep in mind that most of these students pass their regular courses. Some are honor students, and some even have a 4.0 grade-point average."

According to Louisiana information on accountability, "Schools containing grade levels kindergarten through eighth (K-8) entered into the accountability system in 1998-99. Schools with grades 9-12 entered the accountability system in 2000-01.

The 9-12 portions of schools with K-12 grade structures also entered the system in 2000-01."

It is interesting to note the trends in grade retentions since accountability.

Some studies suggest that being retained even once between the first and eighth grades makes a student four times more likely to drop out.

Retentions have probably contributed to a significant increase in the number of over-age students in the system.

It is past time for us to rethink high-stakes testing. Studies should be conducted to better understand the impact this is having on our children.

This appears to be one of those situations where the cure is worst than the disease.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Graduation Rates for 2003-04

This table will be helpful as local leaders further consider the impact of the dropout problem on the black community. The numbers certainly support the assessment of black males in crisis. I believe it is important to have quality information upon which to base discussions, decisions and actions. As we kick off another school year here in the Caddo/Bossier area, we can also focus our attention on improving the results captured in this table. The entire community will benefit.

If you have some ideas you want to share, consider posting your comments here for ease of distribution.

Note: Column D in the table is my calculation.

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