“New Jersey’s commitment to implement its Abbott plan and ensure equitable resources to all students proves that it can be done at the state level – as New Jersey is the only state with a significant Black male population with a greater than 65% high school graduation rate.” John H. Jackson, J.D., Ed.D, President & CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education
YES WE CAN: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010 presents positive news about education in NJ. The study demonstrates that whereas the US White Male Graduation Rate is 78%, in NJ the Black Male Graduation Rate (BMGR) is 69% and in Newark it is a high 75%. NJ overall ranks 9th among the 50 states in BMGR, but it is Newark’s record for which we can be most proud. As the report points out, “The increased resources from Abbott v. Burke funding in NJ, which became effective about 2003, have allowed the much-maligned Newark school district to nearly close the gap for Black males with national White male graduation rates.” Newark is ranked #1 in the Ten Best-Peforming Large Districts for Black Males.
The report also looks at the data by the percentage of Black male students scoring at or above proficiency, using the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2009, Grade 8 reading percentages. This reveals that NJ and Kentucky Black male students rank at the top, with 15% at or above proficiency. As a point of comparison the highest ranking for White male students was 45% (MD) with NJ a close second at 44%, and the lowest score was 18% (WVA).
The report indicates that within NJ there continues to be significant gaps between Black male students and White male students. As indicated above, the gap between 8th grade reading scores between Blacks (15%) and Whites (44%) is a significant 29%. Likewise, although the graduation rate of Black male students in NJ (69%) is not far below the national White male rate, 78%, it is considerably below the rate of NJ White male students, 90% which is 3rd highest in the country.
Decreasing the gaps is an important goal, but we have every reason to be extremely proud of NJ’s and Newark’s record. And we have cause for concern in how our record has been recently portrayed. As Bob Braun comments in today’s Star Ledger, “Christie, of course, refers to urban education in New Jersey as “obscene.” So, it’s little surprise he didn’t cite the Schott report, or other indicia of success. That wouldn’t fit the narrative he is trying to make us all believe, a narrative that somehow justifies cutting back on the very programs that were succeeding and replacing them with the sort of things in Washington, DC, that were not succeeding but do meet an ideological test.” Washington’s low male graduation rate was Black: 41% and White 57%.