California: Black boys expect to fail

By kindergarten, 1 out of 4 African American boys in California is convinced he will fail in school, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, citing a report by an Assembly select committee. By fourth grade, 60 percent of black and Latino children score below proficient on reading tests; by eighth grade, 1 in 4 are chronically absent.

Oakland Unified is implementing many of the report’s recommendations, including “full-service schools with health centers, discipline policies that keep students in school and programs to support at-risk youth,” reports the Chronicle.

For example, the district has an Office of African-American Male Achievement, which supports manhood development classes at middle and high schools and other programs for black males.

The manhood classes offer black male students positive African American male role models who encourage the young men to focus on their education and future and offer a curriculum that includes everything from how to tie a tie to an analysis of historical black figures.

So far, black male students are doing very, very badly in Oakland Unified.

About Joanne


  1. Mark Roulo says:

    And … statistically, these kindergarteners are actually overoptimistic 🙁

    Currently, about 50% of black males who enroll in 9th grade graduate with a high school diploma four years later (and about 78% of white males get a high school diploma in four years).

    Is the problem here (a) that the kindergarteners are less optimistic than we want or (b) that the graduation rates are so low? If (b), why do we care what the kindergarteners think? The problem is the graduation rate itself, not 6-year-olds guesses as to their own odds. If (a) … well, the kids are, statistically, more optimistic than they should be. Are we supposed to tell them that the actual odds are one-in-two? That seems unlikely …

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    What a tragedy that “manhood classes” are necessary.

    Someday we’ll look back at the period of 1968 to present and see it as a second period of cultural genocide for blacks in America. All the more tragic because it’s been to a certain degree self-inflicted. While there’s so much to admire in black culture of prior generations, they’ve been eating their seed corn for 40 years now – much like the rest of America just faster. Their fertility rates have been declining for decades – much like the rates for whites, but they’ve recently converged with whites while their abortion rate is three times higher. With the exception of Latinas (whose rates have dropped even faster) both whites and blacks are below replacement level.

    The golden age of black culture in America was from roughly 1880-1950, ironic considering Jim Crow. But European Jews also offer an example of incredible cultural achievement under repressive regimes.

    Oh, wait, that reflection will never happen because we’d have to engage in some critical thinking and come up with some causality for this and there’s no way academics, politicians, or “artists” will ever admit their culpability.

    • Do not overlook the damage that the government has done to the Black family and Black culture in this country because of the “war on poverty”.

  3. The article states

    The Assembly select committee investigation on the status of boys and men of color also found that the boys are increasingly putting a strain on the state’s economic health.

    And calls for this:

    “We need to change our value system and recognize that investing in the most marginalized youth will yield the greatest economic returns for California,” Swanson said.

    Swanson begs the question:  why are the Caucasian and Asian minorities NOT straining the state’s economic health, and why DON’T they require intervention to get economic returns?

    (We know, of course; the low achievement of even Black and Hispanic children whose parents have high incomes and advanced degrees proves that most of the difference is beyond the influence of any school or government.  But try getting THAT reflected in public policy!)

    • Saying stuff like this will get you put in jail in the near future. I would become much more Internet anonymous, if I were you. (The future is definintely 1984+Brave New World, unfortunately. We’re more than halfway there now!)

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Two reactions: One is how on earth do you find out what kindergartners think about such things? And is it correct?
    The other is who has gotten to these kids BEFORE they have any schooling besides K and Head Start, and convinced them they’re losers?

  5. Joanne,

    As I was just saying on Robert Pondiscio’s FB page, I’d read the report before I believe the 25% statistic. As you well know, getting accurate data from four year old children is really hard. WIth all due respect to the California State Assembly, it would not be surprising to find that their survey methods were not great, and their conclusion is subject to questioning.

    Of course this doesn’t mean that black boys don’t face long odds, and that we need to design better interventions.

    But if we’re trying to teach them, and all children, to be better critical thinkers, we do them little service by basing our policies on questionable data. Or writing reports designed to grab headlines, as it seems this committee did.