Early Childhood

White House Initiative Targets Education for African-Americans

By Lesli A. Maxwell — July 27, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Barack Obama launched a new initiative Thursday aimed at improving the educational outcomes for African Americans, who despite steady progress in recent years on indicators such as high school graduation and college-going, still trail significantly behind their white and Asian peers.

The president signed an executive order to establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, a move he first announced Wednesday night in New Orleans during a speech at the annual conference of the National Urban League, a leading civil rights organization.

In a broad stump speech that touched on a number of populist issues, including education, the president said he was creating the initiative for African Americans “so that every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.”

Specific goals of the initiative span from early childhood to adulthood and include:

• Increasing access to, and participation in, early childhood programs that prepare African American children for success in school;

• Driving down the number of unnecessary referrals of black children to special education programs;

• Addressing disproportionate use of suspension and expulsion in schools; and

• Providing African American students with access to rigorous courses and effective teachers that are essential to preparing them for college and careers.

High-profile civil rights leaders praised the move.

“For too long, the experience of far too many African American students in far too many places has been marred by school districts whose ongoing practices have failed our children,” Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement. “If fully implemented, we are convinced the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will make sure school discipline is fair, special education assignments are based on needs not race, and all of our nation’s most motivated students have fair access to advanced placement classes.”

The new education initiative for African Americans joins similar White House efforts aimed at Hispanics, American Indian and Alaska Natives, and Asian-American and Pacific Islanders. President Obama, in 2010, set up a similar effort to bring attention to, and strengthen, the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs.

Like the other efforts focused on improving educational outcomes for ethnic and racial groups, the African American initiative will be housed in the U.S. Department of Education. A spokesman for the department said that no one has been selected as of yet to head up the initiative. However, the president announced that he would appoint Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to advise him on the initiative.

BRIC ARCHIVE

In his Wednesday address to the Urban League, President Obama also spoke out against the pervasiveness of gun violence, as it played out so tragically last week in the mass shooting in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater that killed 12 people, and as it happens daily in communities across the nation.

“Every day, in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater,” he said. “For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans.”

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood Q&A An Investment in Early-Childhood Education Is Paying Off Big
Richard Tomko believes that expanding the early education pipeline buffers schools against enrollment loss and academic struggles.
2 min read
Dr. Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Belleville Public Schools in Belleville, N.J., visits science teacher Paul Aiello’s Medical Academy Field Experience class on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The Medical Academy’s class uses Anatamoge tables, an anatomy visualization system that allows students to garner a deeper, comprehensive understanding of the human body and medical tools to prepare them for careers in the medical field.
Richard Tomko, superintendent of Belleville Public Schools in Belleville, N.J., has expanded academic programs while restoring trust in the school system.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Early Childhood Opinion What K-12 Can Learn from Pre-K
Early-childhood education has valuable lessons to share with K-12.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood Which States Offer Universal Pre-K? It's More Complicated Than You Might Think
Universal pre-K is growing in popularity. Here are the states that have already established universal preschool programs or policies.
2 min read
Early Childhood Support for Universal Pre-K Grows as More States Jump on Board
New Mexico became the latest state to approve investments in pre-K programs.
5 min read
A Pre-K student plays with the class guinea pig at Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Aug. 17, 2021. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states offering universal pre-k to all students.
A prekindergarten student plays with the class guinea pig at Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 2021. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states offering universal pre-K.
Sue Ogrocki/AP