Last Wednesday, during his remarks at the National Urban League conference in New Orleans, President Obama announced he would sign an Executive Order to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans.
The President has made providing a complete and competitive education for all Americans – from cradle to career – a top priority. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will work across Federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students. The Initiative aims to ensure that all African American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers.
In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America’s educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation. Nonetheless, substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America’s educational system. African American students 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.
The President has set the goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. To reach this ambitious goal, and to ensure equality of access and opportunity in education for all Americans, the Obama Administration is dedicating new resources, through rigorous and well-rounded academic and support services, to enable African American students to improve their educational achievement and prepare for college and career.
To deliver a complete and competitive education for all African Americans, the Initiative will promote, encourage, and undertake efforts designed to meet several objectives, including:
- Increasing the percentage of African American children who enter kindergarten ready for success by improving access to high-quality early learning and development programs;
- Ensuring that all African American students have access to high-level, rigorous course work and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and civic participation;
- Providing African American students with equitable access to effective teachers and principals, and supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of successful African American teachers and principals;
- Promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools, and decreasing the disproportionate number of referrals to special education by addressing root causes of the referrals;
- Reducing the dropout rate of African American students;
- Increasing college access, college persistence, and college attainment for African American students;
- Strengthening the capacity of institutions of higher education that serve large numbers of African American students; and
- Improving the quality of, and expanding access to, adult education, literacy, and career and technical education.
To read the full Executive Order, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/26/executive-order-white-house-initiative-educational-excellence-african-am