The Corner


Seventy-Five Percent of Black Boys in California Fail State Reading Standards

A recent study of California educational data shows that 75 percent of black boys in the state fail to meet the state’s reading and writing standards. This, despite decades of efforts to correct the problem.

Of course, the usual analyses are offered by educators and the media. The Long Beach Press Telegram provides the explanation of an official with the Oakland Unified School District: “Part of this may be structural, in having texts that aren’t relevant to the experiences and legacy of African-American boys. When a lot of the curriculum you have access to isn’t familiar, or doesn’t acknowledge your past or your present, you have a tendency not to be engaged with it or won’t read it.”

Over the last two generations texts and curricula across the country have been infused with “the experiences and legacy” of African-Americans. Africana studies programs have proliferated from college campuses to high schools to grade schools. Innumerable remedial programs designed specifically to “acknowledge [the] past [and] present” of blacks populate the educational landscape. Yet the academic performance of black boys remains abysmal.

Not so for, say, Asian-American boys who, despite not marinating in Asian-American studies, consistently outperform their black, Hispanic, and white comparators.

When confronted with this data progressives also blame black male underachievement on disparate school discipline and/or on something they’re fond of calling the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The Office of Civil Rights in the Obama Department of Education even issued guidances effectively coercing school districts into meting out racially proportionate discipline — with predictably disastrous results.

Rest assured that black boys in California, which state’s educational establishment (like most educational establishments) is dominated by progressives steeped in acute racial and cultural sensitivity, will continue to lag behind their peers for the foreseeable future. That’s because progressives refuse to acknowledge studies showing that, when correcting for one factor alone, much of the disparity between similarly situated black students and white students shrinks to insignificance. That factor is growing up in a two-parent family. Seventy-two percent of black kids are born to single mothers. In some urban areas that figure is nearly 100 percent. In contrast, 17 percent of Asian-American kids are born to single mothers.

These figures will be ignored or proclaimed racist. Billions more will be poured into ineffectual programs. Blacks will be told their educational underachievement is due to racism. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Congressional Black Caucus will play along. And the cycle will repeat.

I (almost) give up.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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