Executive Order — White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

Released: July 26, 2012

Why an Executive Order on Education for African American Students?

“…substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America’s educational system. African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education.

African American student achievement not only lags behind that of their domestic peers by an average of two grade levels, but also behind students in almost every other developed nation. Over a third of African American students do not graduate from high school on time with a regular high school diploma, and only four percent of African American high school graduates interested in college are college-ready across a range of subjects.

An even greater number of African American males do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, and African American males also experience disparate rates of incarceration.”  –from whitehouse.gov

What’s included in this initiative?

(Paraphrased) To deliver a complete and competitive education for all African Americans, the Initiative shall:

  • Increase the percent of African American children who enter kindergarten ready for success by improving access to quality early learning programs;
  • Decrease disproportionate number of referrals from general education to special education, addressing root causes of referrals and eradicating discriminatory referrals;
  • Implement successful practices to ensure rigorous education in safe & healthy environments with access to high-level course work & support;
  • Ensure all students have access to effective teachers & leaders; recruiting, developing, and retaining successful African American leaders;
  • Reduce dropout & helping students preparing for college & a career; promoting positive school climate without disparate use of discipline;
  • Increase college access and graduation rates for African American students; strengthen community colleges, Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) & Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs);
  • Enhance opportunities by fostering positive family and community engagement; reducing racial isolation; promoting understanding & tolerance for all Americans; and
  • Improve quality and the access to adult education, literacy, career and technical education; increase opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

I’m going into this weekend with higher hopes that we can turn the education system around and provide better opportunities to our students in Philadelphia and across the country.