A Call to Action: “The Crisis for Black Public Schoolchildren”
After more than a half century of education reform following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education
decision which desegregated public schools, the nation has failed to increase the educational
achievement for black schoolchildren to acceptable levels.
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.
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.
Reforms such as busing, charter schools, vouchers, magnet schools, clusters and pairings have been
tried and have not ended the education crisis for black public schoolchildren. Neither has the focus on
reading and math scores, following the decline of SAT scores in 1975, ameliorated this problem.
We believe this nation can and must do better.
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. We do not engage
black schoolchildren sufficiently. The ones who most need engaging and have personal challenges to
overcome too often are the very students who go wanting for attention.
Even though a lot of public attention has been focused on privatization, vouchers and charter schools,
most children who attend school go to public schools. While all of these reform initiatives are taking
place, we still have an unaccepta