Monday, March 20, 2006

Drop In

Today's New York Times targets in my opinion one of the greater threats to the stability and well being of American citizens: the plight and achievement of African American males. Staple sources for discontent echo in this article like the hip-hop industry, lack of male parent figures, and of course our dropout epidemic. But less tired sources like welfare reform and mainstream culture navigation skills get mention.

Regarding dropouts, the Times author takes a more satisfactory approach with his statistics than many states do when they report that most of their students graduate. He writes that in major cities graduation rates hover at half for black males. Half! Look here for a more appropriate graduation mark that states have promised to begin work on.

Combined with sobering realities like: "In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000" the situation looks bleak indeed.

I don't have an answer but I do have a question. I would like to see more data about black males that have degrees, associates or otherwise, that are still unemployed. This information would help guide a discussion better suited to addressing such a horrendous scourge. I'd like to know how much impact schooling has on black males. It is possible that schooling only goes so far. The 47 year-old man named William Baker in the article who had been to prison had an associate’s degree. He also had no steady work. He lamented a bias he feels keeps him from getting a good job. People need chances. They need more than one. If a high school degree or a college degree doesn't necessarily equal chances, as I believe it does not, then we have a long way to go to figuring this one out. We need more ways to help people drop in.


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