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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who is to blame when black children fail?

From the Sun Sentinel

By Jason Schultz

DELRAY BEACH — A noted psychologist told a gathering of teachers, school officials and parents that the reason why black males are struggling to graduate high school has very little to do with the failures of teachers.

It has much more to do with the failures of modern society, he said.

"I'm unwilling to stand up here and pretend that you are somehow responsible for their failures," Na'im Akbar told teachers Tuesday at a symposium on graduation rates at Atlantic Community High School. The symposium was the second meeting of a task force started by the school district to generate ideas to improve graduation rates, particularly among black males.

The graduation rate for Palm Beach County black males is about 65 percent, far behind the nearly 82 percent districtwide rate, according to a letter from Superintendent Art Johnson in the symposium program.

Akbar, a former psychologist at Florida State University, laid out what he called a "collage of factors" in society that he said keep these students from graduating.

He said shortcomings of the school system are only a small part of the problem.

"You are not the cause. You are faced with this consequence that you are magically expected to solve," Akbar said.

He pointed to poverty and the high number of black children born to young, single mothers as larger causes for graduation rate problems.

He also said that many of the children in school now were born into families devastated by the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

"These are the crack babies, and some of them the crack grandbabies, who you are now trying to educate," Akbar said.

Akbar said children are "miseducated" before they even get to the classroom because they now get their socialization and image of how they are supposed to act from television instead of their families and communities.

"[Black Entertainment Television] becomes the model of how you want to be," Akbar said. "You want to be a clown. You want to be a pimp."

An important thing that could be done to improve graduation rates, Johnson told the crowd, is to find ways to remove negative social stereotypes that hold minority students back.

"Students will rise or fall to the level of our expectations," Johnson said.

The next meeting of the graduation rate task force is scheduled for Feb. 22.,0,5632720.story


  1. As someone who works with at-risk youth, the answer is simple...adults in general and parents in particular are the reason black children fail.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. we do teach them then we est them as if they are proficient then we blame them when they fail.