Black Boys in Crisis: Why Aren’t They Reading?

Matthew Lynch, Huffington Post, September 16, 2014

Though people outside the “Black boy” demographic like to think that American K-12 schools, workplaces and courthouses are pillars of fairness, those within the grouping know better. Study after study, research report after research report, and statistic after statistic all point to a crisis among the young, Black men of the nation–beginning in homes, stretching to K-12 educational experiences, and leading straight to the cycle of incarceration in increasingly high numbers.

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This spring, the Black Star Project published findings that just 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading. In urban areas like Chicago and Detroit, that number was even lower. By contrast, the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 46 percent of white students are adequate readers by eighth grade, and 17 percent of Black students as a whole are too. The achievement gap between the two races is startling, but the difference between the NAEP report on Black students as a whole and the Black Star findings of just Black boys is troubling too. It is not simply Black children in general who appear to be failing in the basics–like literacy; it is the boys.

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While it is true that Black boys often arrive in Kindergarten classrooms with inherent disadvantages, they continue to experience a “behind the 8-ball” mentality as their school careers progress. Black boys are more likely than any other group to be placed in special education classes, with 80 percent of all special education students being Black or Hispanic males. {snip}

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