Just Sayin’ …Education very important to Black Americans— Pittsburgh Public Schools can lead the way (Ulish Carter's Column Aug. 23, 2017)


I’ve always believed that education and jobs are the most important challenges facing Black America, so the two stories under the umbrella head, “Expect great things,” in the New Pittsburgh Courier last week (Aug. 16), written by Rob Taylor Jr., hit the nail on the head.
“We have a clear system of how we are doing, how are we tracked, but also the expectations we have for our professional learning communities, and provide them data that they can use on a regular basis,” Dr. Anthony Hamlet, PPS Superintendent, told the Courier.
Dr. Hamlet has been doing a great job since coming to Pittsburgh and look for the city schools to move out ahead of most of the school systems in the state and country by the end of this school year.
Some of the numbers he will be trying to change is the overall graduation percentage of Blacks and Whites while closing the achievement gap between Blacks and Whites.
Here are some of the numbers he’s facing. While 80 percent of White students from Pittsburgh Public Schools graduated, only 65 percent of Blacks graduated in 2015. The story goes on to say that in 2013, which was the year with the highest graduation rates overall (according to the five-year information data given to the Courier by PPS), Blacks graduated only 73 percent compared to 83 percent for Whites, and 77 percent overall.
This led me to compare these numbers to national figures. Just how does Pittsburgh Public Schools, which is 53 percent Black, compare to other cities with high Black student populations? I wasn’t able to get the percentage of Black teachers and administrators in PPS by deadline, nor the Black male dropout rate, which is critical after seeing the national figures.
While the nation’s graduation rate has continued to grow, the gap between Black males and White males have continued to widen according to the last study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education in 2015 entitled, “Black Lives Matter: the Schott 50 State Report on Public Education.”
The national graduation rate was 80 percent for White males compared to 65 percent Latino, and just 59 percent for Black males in 2012-2013.
The states that had the highest rates of Black male high school graduates were states with low Black enrollment such as Maine, Idaho, Arizona and New Jersey. Only New Jersey has a high number of Blacks. But the scary part was, the states and cities/counties with large Black populations all had extremely low graduation rates with margins between them growing even wider.
With the lowest rates were Nevada, Nebraska, Mississippi and Indiana. Mississippi and Indiana have a large number of Blacks.
Areas with the lowest were: Detroit at 20 percent, New York City at 28, and Philadelphia at 24 percent Black male graduation rates.
John H. Jackson, the foundation’s CEO, said that the federal, state, and district policies need to be exampled to address the disparaties in ways that will make a difference in Black and Latino lives. He said the graduation rates were much lower in southern states where most Blacks still live, and New York City, which has a larger number of Black students than any other city. The state of New York had 87 percent White graduates while 62 percent of Blacks.
Even though the foundation only dealt with males, the National Center for Education Statistics listed the following numbers from the 2011-12 school year on states.
The 80 percent overall number was an all-time high and hopefully it will contine to rise for all.
Pennsylvania’s overall graduation rate was 84 percent overall, 89 percent Whites, 68 percent Black, and 68 percent Latino. Pennsylvania was No. 19 overall, but No. 25 in Black grads.
To my surprise, Texas led all states with 93 percent White graduates and 84 percent Blacks. Minnesota and D.C. had the lowest rating of Black grads with 51 and 58 percent.
Most of the South’s Black graduation rate was in the 60s while the Whites were in the 80s.
So, looking at the PPS numbers right now, they are behind the state. Overall 84-77, Whites 87-80, Blacks 68-64.
I wish Dr. Hamlet and Dr. Regina Holley, PPS board chair, all the luck in the world in pulling PPS out ahead of the nation in educating our students. We must do for ourselves because the current President is crazy and the “Do Nothing Congress” continues to live up to its name.
Without education there will be no jobs, and without decent paying jobs we are worse than slaves.
President Trump expressed his true feelings about the Charlottesville rally, the Neo Nazis, KKK and Skinheads after three tries.
People keep saying President Trump only has a 30 to 35 percent base that believes in him. Well, Fox News seems to really believe in him, and he won the election with 48 percent of the popular vote, which was enough to win the election in the electoral college count. If you don’t vote, your views don’t count because your vote didn’t.
Mike Pence scares me more than Trump. He’s smart enough to keep his racist views quiet.
(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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