Etienne LeGrand, president of the W.E.B. Du Bois Society in Atlanta, has an interesting AJC guest column today in which she discusses the stubborn academic achievement gap between black and white students.
She notes significant gaps between blacks and whites in NAEP math and reading test scores, high school completion rates, college enrollment and college completion rates. She says the answer goes beyond the classroom to a potent “sub-culture” within the black community that is not interested in school.
It is time, she says, to recognize “the reality that African-American children are growing up in a peer culture and community network that celebrates achievements in sports and entertainment more than academic achievement.”
“Consider the time and energy many parents invest in their sons’ and daughters’ athletic careers, yet they may not take 60 minutes to review their child’s academic standing or assist with homework…Parents must choose after-school activities that promote, stimulate and motivate a love of learning. If that’s not possible, they might consider picking up a book and reading to their child or turning off the television set and talking to one another. ”
I have to add here that many young kids – white, black and polka dot – will say that they want to be basketball or soccer stars or models or rock stars when they grow up. I am not sure that the celebration of sports is a problem as long as there is also acclamation for academics. There are many disciplined scholar-athletes.
What do you think?