Last Thursday, Beyond the Classroom blogger Tracey Savell Reavis wrote a thoughtful piece about the factors that contribute to young black males’ success in college. So it was really apropos that on the same day, the U.S. Census Bureau released their latest figures on how many people in the country hold bachelor’s degrees.
At first glance, the results from the Current Population Survey are heartening: more than 30 percent of American adults now hold bachelor’s degrees, a first in our nation’s history. Among black adults, the number of men and women with bachelor’s degrees climbed from 15.7 percent in 2001 to 19.9 percent. But first impressions can be deceiving. While every demographic saw gains, black men and women continue to trail behind whites and Asians. In fact, in the past decade the achievement gap has only become larger.
It is the end of February, Black History Month. It’s a time when we honor the black leaders who helped make America what it is today. But we must do more to honor the young black men and women who will shape our future, because they currently live in a culture of low expectations.
Social activist Dorothy Height said, “We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for and with those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity.” Across the nation, Communities In Schools works to give young black men and women the opportunity. We break down the barrier of low expectations and help students recognize their potential. Our site coordinators organize community resources so that students have everything they need to thrive, whether it’s counseling or health care, school supplies or help with college applications and scholarships.
The truest way to honor the famous figures in black history is to close the achievement gap and help today’s students succeed. If we take what we learned this month and apply it to every day of the year, we can change expectations. We can help more students earn post-secondary degrees, achieve bright futures and make history.