In graduating black males, Cobb and Gwinnett are leaders in the state and nation. But the rates are still too low.

How do we get more black males to graduate high school and go on to attend and graduate college?

How do we get more black males to graduate high school and go on to attend and graduate college?

A new report on the graduation rate of black males from America’s high schools paints a dispiriting picture. The “Yes We Can, The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males” says only 47 percent of black males graduate from high school.

The report cites the best states for graduating black males; none are in the South. The only state with significant black male enrollment and a greater than 65 percent black male graduation rate is New Jersey.

The report lists the 10 worst performing states for black males. They are New York, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana Nebraska, Ohio, District of Columbia, Indiana,  Alabama and Georgia.

The report notes that black males can succeed in school, pointing to the achievements of the schools in New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Maryland’s Montgomery and Baltimore counties, Fort Bend, Texas, and the U.S. Department of Defense system.

The report also counts two Georgia school districts among the Ten Best Performing Large Districts for Black Males. Gwinnett ranks fifth and Cobb ranks eighth.  Fulton ranks 14th, while DeKalb ranks 20th. Clayton ranks 34th and Atlanta ranks 40th.

“Currently, the rate at which black males are being pushed out of school and into the pipeline to prison far exceeds the rate at which they are graduating and reaching high levels of academic achievement,” said John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. “It is not enough to focus on saving the few. We must focus on systemic change to provide all our children the opportunity to learn.”

According to the report:

  • The five worst performing districts with large black male student enrollment in graduation rates are New York City, N.Y. (28%); Philadelphia, Pa. (28%); Broward County, Fla. (39%); Chicago, Ill. (44%) and Nashville, Tenn. (47%).
  • The states with black male student enrollment exceeding 100,000 that have the highest graduation rates for black male students are New Jersey (69%), Maryland (55%), California (54%) and Pennsylvania (53%).
  • Some states with small populations, such as Maine, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Vermont have graduation rates for black males higher than the national average for white males.
  • The districts with black male student enrollment exceeding 10,000 that have highest graduation rates for black male students are Newark, N.J. (76%); Fort Bend, Texas (68%); Baltimore County, Md. (67%) and Montgomery County, Md. (65%).
  • The districts with the lowest graduation rates for black male students are Pinellas County, Fla. (21%); Palm Beach County, Fla. (22%); Duval County, Fla. (23%); Charleston County, S.C. (24%) and Buffalo, N.Y. (25%).
  • Dade County, Fla.; Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Mich. also have notably low graduation rates for black male students—each at 27 percent.
  • 133 comments Add your comment

    Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

    August 17th, 2010
    12:44 pm

    YES!! We beat Mississippi!

    Bill Cosby, we need ya

    August 17th, 2010
    12:47 pm

    John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. “It is not enough to focus on saving the few. We must focus on systemic change to provide all our children the opportunity to learn.”

    Now is John H. Jackson committed enough, when he says systemic change is needed, to say it’s needed for every single part of the system, like Bill Cosby did? Or is he just looking for the schools to be a scapegoat for a societal problem?

    Aiken Faque

    August 17th, 2010
    12:50 pm

    The answer is simple. It takes a one on one hands on approach. It is the process that is hard.

    Aiken Faque

    August 17th, 2010
    12:53 pm

    @Chris Murphy — We all need to happy about something!

    EnoughAlready

    August 17th, 2010
    12:54 pm

    I’m not suprised by Georgia. I’m wondering if Gwinnett and Cobb will fall off the list, now that the demographics have changed significantly over the last 10 years. I hope and pray it does not.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    1:08 pm

    As the demographics change so does the education boards and the voters who elect said boards. Look at Clayton, Dekalb counties and APS as the future of Cobb and Gwinnett.

    Warrior Woman

    August 17th, 2010
    1:17 pm

    Many of the indicators in the Schott Foundation report are meaningless without additional information. Placement in gifted and special education classes is based on certain criteria, so it is not a measure of school system performance or racial inequity if placement rates differ by race. What would be meaningful is whether students qualifying for gifted, advanced content, or SPED placement actually received those services, and whether receipt or non-receipt varies by race. Controls for income and parental education level would also make this report more meaningful, as they would help indicate whether socioeconomic issues were the root cause rather than discrimination.

    Interesting

    August 17th, 2010
    1:20 pm

    The sad fact about these statistics that is that we continue to put the full responsiblity on the educational system. Until we go back to the “village” concept, nothing will get better. The desire to learn begins with the home environment and should be reinforced in the schools. As long as there is this culture of money, cars, and women that Black males focus on, nothing will change. It takes a strong family to enstill values and what is important and for many of them, unfortunately, education is not on the list. They are given the option to fail by they lack of accountability from those who are responsible for them.

    Bill Cosby, we need ya

    August 17th, 2010
    1:20 pm

    What would be the most effective mechanism of change? Focusing on the schools to change, or focusing on the individual parents and their children to change?

    Of course one provides an easy scapegoat and one asks for personal responsibility.

    HitWithBigStick

    August 17th, 2010
    1:26 pm

    “Currently, the rate at which black males are being pushed out of school and into the pipeline to prison far exceeds the rate at which they are graduating and reaching high levels of academic achievement,”

    If you do the crime, you’re going to do time. People are not “pushed” into prison- they choose to commit a crime and have to face the consequences- which includes jail.

    William Casey

    August 17th, 2010
    1:50 pm

    I have to believe that the staggering out-of-wedlock birth rate has a lot to do with this problem. Of course, I believe that the stable, two-parent family is the foundation of education… but, I could be wrong. I’d bet money, though, that holding all other variables equal, Black males from the above background graduate at a far higher rate.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    1:54 pm

    “pushed out of school and into the pipeline to prison far exceeds”

    There is no such pipeline, its only an excuse to place the blame on society as a whole instead of where it belongs. The parents and the children.

    November

    August 17th, 2010
    1:58 pm

    Why are we still talking about this……I think fifty six years is long enough for this not to be an issue. Whose fault is this?……Maureen, just look around you…..APS, DCSS and CCSS are prime examples….who’s heading them up?…..blacks!!!!! Ask them what’s wrong……Ask Beverly Hall what’s wrong. It’s time someone started taking responsibility……they’re ruining our school systems….

    Dana not @GaDOE

    August 17th, 2010
    2:02 pm

    Just a quick correction, Maureen: Georgia does not “lead the list” with the lowest Black Male graduation rate. They have that list in reverse order. The lowest state is New York, at 25 percent.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    2:05 pm

    Well HERE is some good news. “Cant sing a note” Fantasia is back with her married boyfriend. Im so Happy!

    Tony

    August 17th, 2010
    2:05 pm

    This problem is the result more of cultural and social issues than of school issues. While schools might be able to better at some things, keeping all students in school until they graduate will only get better when everyone of school age PUTS FORTH THE EFFORT to finish school. That means students must do the work required to earn the grades. It means the students must participate in class appropriately and meaningfully. It means that students must be prepared to exert a lot of effort to attain the honor of graduating. Schools alone cannot fix these problems. To continue to spew forth statistic after statistic and only pointing fingers at schools will do nothing to solve the problems.

    William Casey

    August 17th, 2010
    2:06 pm

    NOVEMBER: We are talking about this because it’s a problem. Fifty years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, the Klan was burning crosses at Stone Mountain and making a farce out of “equal protection under the law.”

    Booklover

    August 17th, 2010
    2:13 pm

    So, what’s the difference between Montgomery Co, MD/Dept of Defense schools and on the other hand, Charleston Co, Sc and the south-eastern counties of Florida?

    -familial income and parental education. Montgomery Co is a strong district right outside DC, but most of its inhabitants are highly educated and relatively wealthy.
    -structure of family unit. Department of Defense schools serve, obviously, military dependents for the most part. Those kids are slightly more likely to come from 2-parent homes, but even when they don’t, the one custodial parent has a steady job and provides a good role model.

    Why do states with small populations of blacks graduate black males at very high rates? If racism was the primary factor, wouldn’t those stats be reversed? I attended a public school with a very small percentage of black students, but they were just as successful as the white kids (generally, they were more successful socially and in athletics) because the expectations were the same for everyone.

    Clearly, class is intersecting with race and culture in a complicated manner.

    Expectations matter too: what does the teacher expect from the student? What does the parent expect? What does the student’s society expect?

    What does the student himself expect to achieve?

    Thinking..

    August 17th, 2010
    2:21 pm

    So the more blacks there are, they worse they do? Anyone want to take a shot at the reason why? Anyone willing ?

    November

    August 17th, 2010
    2:27 pm

    William Casey

    August 17th, 2010
    2:06 pm
    NOVEMBER: We are talking about this because it’s a problem.

    My point exactly……and why is it a problem?

    Maureen Downey

    August 17th, 2010
    2:38 pm

    Thanks Dana, Will correct.

    The difference Booklover

    August 17th, 2010
    2:41 pm

    “-structure of family unit. Department of Defense schools serve, obviously, military dependents for the most part. Those kids are slightly more likely to come from 2-parent homes, but even when they don’t, the one custodial parent has a steady job and provides a good role model.”

    Many times when teacher tries to hold a student accountable for their behavior, a parent complains, the teacher gets in trouble with administration.

    But when a child acts up at a Dept. of Defense school, the parent is held responsible, and often has to meet with his/her superiors.

    In other words, the accountability is exactly where it needs to be when the child doesn’t follow the rules. With the parent and with the child.

    V for Vendetta

    August 17th, 2010
    2:43 pm

    Low performance in school is not a racial issue; it is a socioeconomic issue.

    One of the most effective ways of combating a bad home life or undesirable environment is by raising expectations and having year-round school. The KIPP schools are evidence of this. Demographics do not determine success, and anyone who points to DNA as some sort of genetic determinism is grossly misinformed and, quite frankly, a moron. However, that does NOT excuse people from personal responsibility.

    The bottom line: our current system is broken, perhaps beyond repair. How can we apply the same innovation that got us to the moon and turn that focus onto our schools?

    Bloodbike

    August 17th, 2010
    2:44 pm

    We, as black people, have to start not only appreciating education, but stressing it to our children just as much as we do sports and entertainment. Until this happens on a larger scale and over a longer time period, things will not change for us dealing with this statistic(s).

    V for Vendetta

    August 17th, 2010
    2:45 pm

    Booklover is correct: socioeconomic status is the strongest determining factor for academic success, but the quality of the school itself is a close second. At a strong academic school, the so-called “achievement gap” is much, much lower–if it exists at all. Again, race has nothing to do with it.

    Proud Black Man

    August 17th, 2010
    2:49 pm

    “So the more blacks there are, they worse they do? Anyone want to take a shot at the reason why? Anyone willing ?”

    Its known as the tipping point bigot. The more blacks there are the more scared and absent, fleeing, white people get. And along with the white people capital and infrastructure fled with them. This is how our once proud cities like Detroit became unfit cesspools. But of course you tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned) and bigots are eager to trot out your latest pseudo-science to explain why black students aren’t doing well or “its the family.” How do you people think “the families” got so d!cked up to begin with?

    Proud Black Man

    August 17th, 2010
    2:52 pm

    @ Bloodbike

    Your “We, as black people…” statement should read “we as uncle toms. Quit being a lapdog for the white right. Not only do those people despise you, they consider you less than human.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    2:53 pm

    Ya…so remember next time you change residence you are a bigot.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    2:54 pm

    Dr NO prescribes a Big NO for PBM. Bloodbike is precisely correct. PBMs pride and arrogance clouds his vision.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    2:54 pm

    Dr NO prescribes a Big NO for PBM. Bloodbike is precisely correct. PBMs pride and arrogance clouds his vision.

    Dr NO

    August 17th, 2010
    2:56 pm

    Ya PBM…is that like Harry Belafonte screaming that Condi was a uncle tom because she didnt subscribe to his notion of “blackness”. I guess but who cares…scream it all ya want as will put no boils on my arse.

    catlady

    August 17th, 2010
    3:02 pm

    I thought APS was the leader in this! LOL

    Let’s look at it from the nexus of race AND economic class. Then we might see that Cobb and Gwinnett have an “advantage” over some other systems, because their kids are “advantaged.”

    V: “At a strong academic school, the so-called “achievement gap” is much, much lower–if it exists at all. Again, race has nothing to do with it.” But wouldn’t you agree that stronger academic schools tend to “appear” in higher economic neighborhoods?

    EnoughAlready

    August 17th, 2010
    3:11 pm

    Proud Black Man

    August 17th, 2010
    2:49 pm

    100% correct. It’s the more than 3 in the neighborhood rule. If the neighborhood has 30 homes, only 3 can be minority to still be considered good. Many will leave the entire area, if the school becomes more than 30% minority. If the city council has more than 3 minorities; the entire city is considered to be majority minority.

    The thing is you can only continue to run so far; then you have to return. We are seeing that in Atlanta today.

    Atlanta Mom

    August 17th, 2010
    3:14 pm

    I’m so confused. I thought yesterday’s blog showed once and for all that we have no idea what the drop out rate is, in Atlanta or Georgia.

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa Maatz and Neil Sullivan, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: In graduating black males, Cobb and Gwinnett lead the state and nation. But the rates are still too low. http://bit.ly/9uxp8P [...]

    Lori

    August 17th, 2010
    4:03 pm

    Dr NO, I agree totally. No one is being “pushed out” of school. It is a simple as showing up for classes and doing the work. If you don’t do that, then you don’t deserve to graduate. But some kids grow up with the something for nothing attitude they learned from their parents. Sad, very sad!

    Lori

    August 17th, 2010
    4:05 pm

    PMB, I don’t care if the whole school is full of nothing but black males, if they show up and do the work, they’ll graduate. No one has anyone to blame but themselves!

    What's really going on

    August 17th, 2010
    4:26 pm

    … and if they graduate (particularly from schools with lower socioeconomics), what exactly is their diploma preparing them for??? Wasn’t there a recent blog about a student graduating high school who was reading on 5th grade level?

    Bloodbike

    August 17th, 2010
    4:31 pm

    Proud Black Man,

    Keep playing basketball my brother.

    Booklover

    August 17th, 2010
    4:41 pm

    More on DoD schools–I absolutely agree that DoD schools hold parents more accountable, and that parents can have real and appreciable consequences if their child is acting up… but I wanted someone else to say it :)

    I teach at a school that includes a military base where my boyfriend is an officer. It’s amazing how much better behaved military kids are when they know that, but especially when it turns out that the parent works in the same unit with my boyfriend.

    Of course that is just an example of the effects of a village raising a child: if there are social consequences for the parents when the child is disruptive in school… well, the child will probably much more motivated by the parents to behave.

    Lori

    August 17th, 2010
    4:47 pm

    Yes, PMB, that time is long gone. Anyone who continues to use the race card is nothing more than a pathetic loser. I certainly hope you don’t have kids, because I’m sure they’ll grow up to be a sorry @$$ loser full of hatred just like you are.

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    4:59 pm

    gee, the AJC just stuck its hand in water and discovered it’s wet.

    of course Cobb & Gwinnett do better than the rest of them metro area.
    they have a larger majority of parents who give a damn, and kids who are held accountable than the disasters known as APS, DCSS, Fulton, Clayton, ect

    its a very simple thing – the systems in Cobb & Gwinnett are less race obsessed than the rest of the metro area.

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:00 pm

    funny how the two “convervative” school systems do better than the touchy feely liberal ones.

    could it be an emphasis on learning over feelings?

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:02 pm

    so our proud cities became cesspools when the majority of the population became black?

    interesting.

    maybe there’s a lesson in there.

    Booklover

    August 17th, 2010
    5:03 pm

    Something else I’d like to see a study on– how can we get more males, particularly minority males, into teaching elementary and secondary school?

    I think it’s obvious that we first have to pay teachers a salary comensurate with our education and legal responsibility. Any black male who “makes it” seems to go into business, law, etc., because teaching pays so poorly. But we really, really need teachers who look like the students and can be accessible role models.

    I try to bond with my students over common interests that we have, mostly football because I love it, but there’s only so much I can do as a white girl. We have to get away from the stereotype of studying as something girls do.

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:07 pm

    @ Maureen,

    thugboy.com is a gay porn site.

    can the troll known as Poor Black Man be made to
    go away until he/she/it learns to act like a
    grown up?

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:10 pm

    @booklover

    first thing which has to be done is a massive change in the
    culture. when a briefcase becomes as cool as oversized pants
    riding on the backs of the knees, then maybe.

    problem is, in this society, almost nobody really values
    education anymore. regardless of color

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:12 pm

    @ booklover

    I grew up a military kid.
    good behavior was expected, and there were consequences for
    the lack of it.

    unlike the rest of society

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:14 pm

    if anybody is pushing black males out, its the black males themselves.
    our system is loading to overflowing with programs, initatives, outreaches for black kids – men in particular.

    but they gotta make the effort and give a damn

    bootney farnsworth

    August 17th, 2010
    5:16 pm

    why is it Neil Tyson is less popular than Mike Tyson?