HILLSBOROUGH NAACP CALLS FOR SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT SUMMIT-Andrew Stelzer03/16/04
This fall will mark the two-year anniversary of the no child left behind act. Last year, on the first annual report card issued under the bush administration act, Florida had the highest percentage nationwide of schools not making adequate yearly progress, the benchmark for passing. An independent study of school children in Hillsborough County, found that it's black students who are getting the least education. The NAACP is calling for a countywide summit to address the problem to stop things from getting even worse. Dr Sam Horten is the President of the Hillsborough chapter of the NAACP
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“The blame is not necessarily on the school districtÃ¢â‚¬Â¦what about the family,Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“were talking about a community effort, the poor people are suffering.Ã¢â‚¬?
The study found that while 65 percent of white students are reading at or above reading level, only 32 percent of black students are reading well, and 41 percent of Hispanic students. The numbers were similar for achievement of math. An even clearer predictor was class; overall 37 percent of poor kids were below reading level, and 42 percent of poor students were below the required levels in 9th grade math. Not only are poor students and students of color behind, but nationally, Hillsborough county public school students are behind the national average.
Maralyn Williams is treasurer of the Hilsborough county NAACP.
ACTS Ã¢â‚¬Å“black and brown children are like the canary in the coal mineÃ¢â‚¬Â¦until we make sure we are trying to address the educational needs of all children, we are all going to suffer.Ã¢â‚¬?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“while were here to improve the ed of black children, we are really trying to improve the ed of all children.Ã¢â‚¬?
Dr Walter Smith said that this is not the first time that studies have shown the black students were not doing as well in schools. But actions taken over 20 years ago are no longer working.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was in 1982Ã¢â‚¬Â¦loss of interest. It died.Ã¢â‚¬?
Smith blames standardized tests for some of the problem.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“They have admitted they are biased.Ã¢â‚¬?
As for solutions, Smith says he believes that all students have to be helped, but that the African-American community must make it a priority to pull together and help themselves
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have got to keep a focus on African American youngstersÃ¢â‚¬Â¦for example, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m building a library in my neighborhood, but my focus is on what can I do for these black community. Others will be welcome. When I talk about history of tampa..There needs to be a focusÃ¢â‚¬?
Dr Horten also said the NAACP has an official position of concern about the new school choice system that will go into effect later this year. There are worries that it will lead to a racially segregated school system, and at the very least, a school system segregated based on class. This could make things worse for children who are already in low performing schools.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Segregated school shave led to less money, lessÃ¢â‚¬Â¦etc. but we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the power to make changes.Ã¢â‚¬?
The NAACP is demanding that the school district will call a summit to bring together black churches, fraternities, sororities, and other groups together to help address the problems of poor education, including parents, educators, community groups and school officials, along with representatives from the Hispanic community.
To view information about learning progress under the no child left behind act for a particular school, district, or county go to http://www.fldoe.org/nclb/ and click on Ã¢â‚¬Å“AYP reportsÃ¢â‚¬?