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Meeting the Promise of Brown Versus Board of Education

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May 17, 2012 05:29 pm

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It has been fifty-eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown versus Board of Education that the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education. Still, the promise of an equal education remains unmet for too many of the nation’s students of color and Native students–no matter which education statistic you choose to examine. Consider:

  • Nationwide, about 78.4 percent of white students graduate on time, compared to 57 percent of African American students, 57.6 percent of Hispanic students, and 53.9 percent of Native American students, based on data from the 2011 Diplomas Count report.
  • Among eighth-graders, Only 14 percent of African American students, 17 percent of Hispanic students, and 20 percent of American Indian students read at a proficient level, compared to 37 percent of white students, according to data from the 2011 Nation’s Report Card in reading.

During a time when 60 percent of current jobs require some form of additional education after high school, the nation has a moral imperative to ensure that all students, no matter their racial or ethnic background, graduate from high school with a diploma that prepares them to succeed in college or a career. But the nation also has an economic imperative to do so. In fact, according to a 2011 Alliance report, meeting the promise of Brown by graduating more students of color from high school would lead to dramatic economic growth nationwide.

Consider that, nationwide, an estimated 756,000 students of color and Native high school students dropped out from the Class of 2010. Cutting this number in half would yield 378,000 “new graduates,” who would likely have made additional contributions to the nation’s economy by

  • spending $11 billion more on home purchases than what they would likely have spent without a high school diploma;
  • supporting 30,000 new jobs and increasing the gross domestic product by as much as $5.4 billion by the time they reached the midpoint of their careers;
  • earning $4.3 billion more in an average year, compared to what they would likely have earned without a high school diploma;
  • boosting state tax revenues by $412 million in an average year; and
  • spending $442 million more in an average year purchasing automobiles than what they would likely have spent without a high school diploma.

Last year, in conjunction with the release of this report, the Alliance created a video featuring African American, Latino, business, and education policy leaders offering their perspectives on the Brown versus Board of Education decision and explaining how the hope and promise of an equal education remains unmet for far too many of the nation’s students. You may watch that video at here or by clicking on the image above.

The complete Alliance report, which includes individualized findings at the national and state levels for African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American students, is available here.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.