Thursday, May 27, 2010


Following a two-day discussion of the problems faced by black students in public education, a group of 13 black leaders has issued an urgent call for a national meeting of "black stakeholders" to design a rescue plan for the nation's troubled public schools.

Their action comes on the heels of release of the federal Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report, which found that urban school districts are struggling to improve students reading scores. In December the NAEP report on math tests also showed students in urban districts underperforming.

"We believe keeping kids in school and educating all of them should be an immutable national goal. We now educate only some black children, not all of them – and that is not good enough," the group said in a "Call to Action" it hopes will inspire a "national charrette on the problems of black schoolchildren."

Among those who signed the action call are the Rev. Al Sharpton; former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume; historian Dr. Mary Frances Berry; Baltimore City State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy, and Dr. James Ray, the Detroit Public School Districts' Superintendent of School Redesign.

"In the wake of the Brown ruling, the long-term, inferior education black children receive has been blamed on everything from teachers, to female-headed households, to poverty, to a lack of interest on the part of students and their parents," the group said in its statement.

"We believe this crisis can be described more broadly as a community problem. The stakeholders are not just students, parents and teachers, but also religious leaders, business owners, law enforcement officials, politicians and civic activists. We don't believe a comprehensive solution can be found without the active involvement of all of these stakeholders. Every one of these groups must assume some responsibility for failed schools, and must play an active role in the search for solutions to this problem."

The two-day meeting, which was held May 19 and 20 at North Carolina A&T Alumni-Foundation Event Center, was convened by the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies, a non-profit organization that works to increase the number of blacks employed in the journalism profession and does reporting and research on issues that affect blacks.

W.E.B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois"A century ago, W.E.B. DuBois, who was both an educator and journalist, held an annual series of meetings at Atlanta University to explore the problems of blacks. The Institute followed his lead in asking this eclectic group of blacks to come together to talk about the black education problem," said DeWayne Wickham, the Institute's director.

"From our perspective, this meeting was not unlike those held by the editorial boards of newspapers, which invite newsmakers in to discuss an issue. In this case the journalists on the other side of the table were me and some of the Institute's fellows – two students and three professional journalists," Wickham said.
N.C. A&T State University 1601 E. Market St., Greensboro, NC, 27411
336.334.7500 NEWS RELEASE May 21, 2010 Contact: Nettie C. Rowland (336) 256-0863

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