High School Dropouts: Black Rate Double That of Whites

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that 4.8 percent of all young African Americans ages 15 to 24 dropped out of high school from October 2008 to October 2009. This is double the rate for Whites which stood at 2.4 percent. Some 77,000 African Americans dropped out of high school in the one-year period.

The data also showed that 9.3 percent of all African Americans ages 16 to 24 in October 2009 did not have a high school diploma or the equivalent and were no longer enrolled in school. For Whites this so-called “status dropout rate” was 5.2 percent. There were 508,000 young African Americans in the United States that were considered high school dropouts.

The future economic prospects for this large group of young African Americans with a very low level of educational achievement are bleak.

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  1. Hi Fellow Americans,

    Yes I agree with Nicole, education in this day and age, is golden. At this point, it is no longer optional, it’s mandatory that we receive a degree from an accredited four year college or university if we want to live a somewhat comfortable lifestyle and close the achievement gap between Euro-Americans and African-Americans.

    Just think of all the Great African Americans that came before us, such as, Dr.Martin Luther King who had a Doctor’s degree and managed to save humanity and make this world a better place for ALL people in this country and the world. As well as, Paul Robeson who was a Lawyer, Football Player, Opera Singer, Actor, and so much more and he accomplished all this back in the 30’s. We can’t forget about Carter G. Woodson (father of black history who received a Ph.D from Harvard) and Garrett A. Morgan who discovered the traffic light and gas mask. Let’s not forget W.E.B. Dubois to name a few who fought very hard for African American equality in the Jim Crow south where racism flourished. He was the first African American to graduate from Harvard with a Ph.D and used his knowledge and success to fight against inequality in this country almost 100 years ago.

    We as Africans either forget our history or simply do not know it, which is VERY unfortunate. I think if these high school dropouts had something to be proud of then maybe education would take precedence in their lives.

    Just something to think about. We have to make a change within ourselves, our families, and then our communities. Parents need to take an active approach to make sure kids finish high school and then college, whether they like it or not. The time in now.

    Best Regards,

  2. We need more Black males going into the teaching profession. We need more SMART people of color, period, in the classrooms! Black kids (and other kids) want to see people who look like them in the front of the classroom. Yes, it makes a HUGE difference!!!

    Intelligent people (not people who barely made it out of undergrad and so decided to teach because it’s ‘easy’) need to lead the charge and start teaching.

  3. Nicole,

    Your point is well-taken. But we cannot ignore the fact that much of what gets passed off as “education” in many urban schools is fairly oppressive and uninspiring. Dumbed-down curriculum, test-driven instruction, tracking, low expectations, and so on. The historical record shows that Black people have always valued education. Just like Black parents and the collective Black community, we also need to hold schools accountable. To assume that the current education system is even set up to serve Black people in empowering ways is questionable. Most successful Black K-12 students achieve in spite of their schooling, not necessarily because of it.

    Also, I just have to ask why JBHE continues to frame Black educational outcomes in terms of white educational outcomes. Such comparisons can yield useful information but is that the only way to frame the issue? Is the implicit suggestion that Black people should be more like White people? I don’t that is a particularly high standard. Moreover, perpetuating the idea that “race” is causal and leads to a “racial” achievement gap is just plain silly.

    • Your point is well taken about the questionable assumption that the current education system is even set up to serve Black people in empowering ways. John Ogbu speaks to that subject in Minority Education and Caste (1978). To pursue that argument does not, in my mind, help with the problem. I think the issue is in great part, as Ogbu also argued in other works, that our people often adopted an “oppositional identity” to the mainstream culture in response to a glass ceiling imposed or maintained by white society on the job-success of their parents and others in their communities. Therefore, Ogbu reasoned, some non-whites “failed to observe the link between educational achievement and access to jobs.” In other words, education is not enough of a priority in the Black community, enough being the byword here.

  4. I am a believer in “What you put in your kids is what you will later get out of your kids”. This is why I screen what my kids see and hear. Do you think President and Michelle Obama are letting their kids sit around and watch BET, TV One and MTV? No. Do you think they are encouraging their daughters to be the next Lisa Leslie? No. As soon as kids come out the womb, black people try to encourage their kids to be Lebron James. The first birthday present is a basketball.
    Instead of pushing them to a basketball court we need to push them to school. Don’t tell me anything about the level of educational resources in the black community. I went to some of the worst schools in NYC and now I am an educator. We need to stop these excuses for our kids and become more involved in their learning.

  5. This is like trying to keep an ill-fitting lid on a pot that’s overboiling without attending the true source. If you take a look at where it starts….Oakland CA for example, the utter crisis of student non attendance figures at the elementary level would merit a harder look.

  6. This article is interesting, but a bit dated.

    In completing my Masters degree in Sociology, we were able to really focus on the newer statistics. We did find that may of the “dropouts” had dreams or goals of entrepreneurship.

    It would be fascinating to see what percentage of teenagers who leave high school become successful business moguls.

    • MA in Sociology…nice (Mean it !) Myself ? “boots on the ground” thirty year veteran first grade school teacher (MA) and small business owner. Dreams are great, but real is real. Of the dwindling manufacturing jobs which will be available, 96 % will require skills and training above high school. A new “entrepreneurship” phenomena occurring is multigenerational families starting retail franchises. The framework, support, and assistance come with the investment, along with the acumen for easing through the labyrinth of licenses, permits, and bumps on the road. Fruition of dreams necessitates hard work and tenacity.

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