In 2001, President George W Bush and his administration declared No Child Left Behind. The proclamation should mean that the historic educational achievement gap between black and white American students would be closed. But 11 years after the proclamation it is evident that there is still a large gap between minority students and white students. In 2007 American white elementary school students scored 31 points higher in reading and 26 points higher in math on standardized test then their African American peers (Toppo). In 2001 only 50% of African Americans graduated on time with regular diplomas. African Americans are also at a higher risk of special education and are less likely to be placed in gifted and talented programs. The reason for these disparities are three types of factors; economical, environmental and human.
African Americans do poorly because of their school environments. According to Jennifer Van Greek, Professor at Bowling Green University, "Children who attend low-status, high-minority schools learn less than do children who attend integrated schools." Children cannot possibly learn when they are surrounded by other students that do not do much better. She states that "students establish a peer society within which attitudes related to schooling and achievement become normative expectations;" Meaning that students surrounded by students who do good are encouraged to good themselves.
African American students are unfortunately part of the discouraging school environment. When, Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development, observed Chicago, Illinios public schools (over 60% African American in 2000)they found that students scare other students from working towards academic achievement. Students commonly insulted students for being wrong. "Children more and more frequently could be heard making derogatory comments about their classmates, and teachers began to feel they were more
often in the role of conflict mediator than learning facilitator." Not only do students take away time from their education by making their teachers allocate more time to solving disputes, I nsulting other students also scare students from giving an effort to the point that they stop trying. With all the factors stacking up against African Americans it is unfortunate that fellow African American students sometimes work against each other.
Yet students are not entirely to blame for the discouraging behaviors they exhibit in school. Part of the reason for their behaviors is African American schools don't encourage positive behaviors. In the Erikson's Institutes initial observations researchers noticed a lack of posters and messages. They suggest the power of reinforced and displayed rules such as "Respect yourself Respect others, and respect this environment" A similar experiment that evaluated factors that effect academic success, found that motivational posters decorating the school and inspirational speakers had a large effect on how hard a student in their control group worked on her assignments(.Griffard and Wandersee). Little things like clean facilities, new books and dress codes create an environment of success. Crowded African American schools are often the schools given up on, the facilities are left to decay and students have no zeal to succeed.
Another issue is the economical disadvantages that come with not being white. Even from a young age white students have an advantage that black students cannot afford. According to Linda Lutton WBEZ Education reporter, African Americans (as well as Latinos) are less likely to attend pre-school then their white peers. By Kindergarten there is a clear difference in reading and problem solving abilities between those who attended pre-school and those who did not. Evidence of this is National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) study that shows in 1998 and 1999, a third to half of Black and Latino students enrolled in kindergarten with test scores in the bottom quarter in math, reading and general knowledge only a 6th of white students did as bad.
As wealthier White students abandon public schools they leave minority students to suffer. The term 'White Flight' describes the period after World War II in which white Americans fled urban areas as more and more African Americans started to move in. A similar flight is happening in Americas school systems. According to Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, districts with public schools populated with a large number of black students tend to have more white Americans attending private schools in the area. This leaves the area public schools at an extreme disadvantage because schools are funded based on the number of students enrolled so as whites flee black students suffer.
Essential for a child to succeed academically is the interaction of parent, teacher and student. More often than not, African American parents are not involved in their child's education. Teachers often lack the ability to communicate with both child and parent. When these three factores do not communicate properly it is the students education suffers.
Without parental involvement, African American Peter McDermott and Julia Rothenberg, lecturers at the Sage college, agree that parental involvement is critical to a child's academic success in elementary middle and even high school. In general, African American parents tend not be as involved as white American parents. Meaning they do not go on field trips, get to know their children's teachers or help their children pick classes. McDernitt and Ruthenberg point out that African American parent's lack of involvement isn't because they care less but because "urban families are often marginalized from everyday school life by poverty, racism, language and cultural differences." Some African Americans may not be able to afford taking the time to get involved in their child's education. African American parents often earn less and have to work multiple jobs are long hours to support their families (Kilbourne).Along with Poverty issues racism and cultural differences as the reason parents don't get involved in their child's education. They feel that schools are "designed for children from middle class, white families at the expense of others (McDenitt and Ruthenburg)." African Americans must fight the obstacles and become partners in their children's education if any progress is to be made in educating African American youth.
Teachers in many Urban school distracts are another issue that keeps African American youth from academic success. McDenitt and Ruthenburg feel that "Urban teachers often lack knowledge and respect of the ethnicities and cultures of the children they teach." The required texts and teaching methods are hard for African Americans to relate to. The teacher is seen as a stranger that the students are to in fear to address with questions or concerns. In a paper by Anthony Brown, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin, he proves that African American-specifically African American males- do better with teachers that understand their economic and racial backgrounds. In order for African Americans to do better their needs to be an increase in teachers that have the background knowledge required to educate disadvantaged black students.
Urban teachers see African American parents as an obstacle to teaching their children. For example a European American teacher notices that an African American student in her class