President Announces the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

President Barack Obama has announced an executive order that will establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. According to a White House official the new office will be housed in the Department of Education and will work “to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African American students’ achievement in school and college.”

The order establishes a commission that will advise the president and the secretary of education on strategies to increase educational opportunities for African Americans.

The full text of the Executive Order is available here.

Related Articles


  1. On October 19, 2010 President Obama signed Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

    Why did it take President Obama so long to do such for African American? Is this just for politics because the president thought he might get the black voter turnout? The president waited until just 4 months before the November 2012 elections to do this. Why didn’t he do the Executive Order the same time he did it for Hispanic Americans in 2010?

    This is a great Executive Order but, it’s almost insulting when looking at the timing of doing such an order. It’s about politics it seems and not for what was needed a long time ago.

    • Now is the best time to do it because it will serve the same purpose, but will not get the same backlash it would have had he done it earlier. The bottom line is, he is a politician his actions are going to be seen as political. Whether they are deemed positive, negative, self-serving, or constituent serving will be up to each individual’s personal narrative of him. I’m sure he’s aware that there will be Blacks who are insulted by the timing of this, as they have been insulted by everything he’s done because it was “never enough”. but even if he doesn’t get re-elected, his good works like this and the money he gave to the United Negro College Fund will still be in place.

      • I agree with Dwane… the President would have received way too much backlash if he had done this on day one of his presidency.

        • Brandy; Not one of the comments on this site in reference to the above subject suggest that President Obama should have signed The Executive Order Initiative On Educational Excellence for African Americans on day one of his presidency.

    • We need to rally behind, beside, and in front of the President to help keep him in office. We should remember that he walked into a major mess and there were and still are many that do not want anything he does to prevail. I applaud him for moving forward with the Executive Order, in spite of the fact that he knew it would generate negative comments about it being politically motivated. So what, it will help African Americans!! None of us are walking in his shoes — but you can imagine what he is having to deal with as President of the US. Find ways to support him.

      • This is the one and only area where a Romney victory would be a benefit – it’d invigorate Black folks again, allowing them to wake up and infusing them with fight; becoming that progressive force again as opposed to being docile apologists for Obama. Despite reneging on all of his promises, war-mongering, killing civilians (even US citizens) with no due process or judicial oversight, and kowtowing to corporate interest, Black folks still want to circle the wagons around him. I understand we have to look out for our own but it has gotten a bit ridiculous at this point. Black unemployment is at record levels, the bogus war on drugs is still being waged in our communities, Black wealth that took generations to build was wiped out due to bankster mortgage and securities fraus while Obama refuses to prosecute his Wall Street benefactors who sponsored it all. Yet, some of you turn a blind eye. A Black president was the worst thing to happen to Black America – turn the most progressive group of people in this country into spineless yes-men.

    • It could be political, but it is the right decision to make regardless when it happens. President Obama is going to be greater after his in term office. Efforts to continue his mission need to be in place. It makes no sense to be critical at this point. He is a politician, let him be that.

  2. Kalvin,

    You are in the desert dying of dehydration and sun exposure and the rescue team finally found you; are you really going to complain about the timing?

    • Chris: African Americans have been psychologically conditioned and addicted to accepting second class treatment even when it is coming from the first sitting Black President in the modern day era.
      Kalvin is one hundred percent correct in the instant case in his detailed analysis of President Obama’s actions which border on election year pandering to a very complex systemic problem.

  3. I agree with Kalvin’s point. It’s not as if we were just suddenly thrusted into the “desert” of anti-intellectualism. If I am not mistaken, the president made a speech before being elected that touched on African American kids and academics. It’s a long time between that speech and the timing of this initiative.

    • No need to dissect this needed executive order. It is political and an honest response to a need. It’s both.
      If he had done it earlier, folks from the right would of screamed out “Foul play, your giving preferential treatment to African Americans.” Well, at this point and time, as a Black man, he realizes it’s time to do what he truly feels is right, no matter what happens.
      Remember folks, not too many years ago, it was against the law to educate Blacks. Can you imagine? I guess there was fear that if Blacks got educated, that would produce a real threat to the people in charge at that time.

  4. I am happy to see the executive order being executed, even though it does appear to be political. Remember, timing is everything.

  5. Chris,

    Do you not notice that President Obama waited until 2012 to target African Americans….when Obama spent time in 2007 and 2008 talking about black education? Yet, in 2010 he did this executive order for Hispanics and it takes until the 2012 elections and a fear that blacks wont turnout in required numbers to win the election….to get the President to sign an executive order for blacks in education? What about some executive order to aid in the employment of African Americans. Out of work and under-employed African Americans with college educations have been needing help since 2008.

  6. Is President Obama going to speak about what he will do about the high black unemployment? Since 2008, under George W. Bush, blacks have been booted out of the middle class. Why doesn’t Obama ever issue a statement about high black unemployment? The DNC 2012 will be in Charlotte, North Carolina….a state with high black unemployment. Yet, Obama wants to win NC again but the president will not even mention a thing about high black unemployment.

  7. I think this initiative is long over do. However, the executive order is not enough. Granted there will be an inititative focused on educational excellence for African Americans, but that will only go so far with the educational system as it is. It is time to seriously consider additional educational reforms for all students, including African Americans.

  8. In May 2009 when the Obama Administration unveiled its education budget were a number of cuts including a program providing historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) an extra $85 million dollars in federal funding. UNCF President and CEO Michael Lomax explained how these cuts would impact black colleges and their students. Also, in 2011 President Barack Obama proposed a budget to cut Pell Grants. President Obama’s budget no longer will allow Pell Grants for summer school. Pell Grants will only be allowed for the fall and spring semesters and not summer. Many HBCU presidents were upset as their students depend highly on Pell Grant funding.

  9. Stop whining about timing and get behind the President to help African Americans do better in school. If we all were doing our parts, he wouldn’t have to be focusing on this issue.

    Volunteer in the schools – especially men. A child can go through 12 years of public school and never have a male teacher. Talk to African American youth about school. Help them with their homework. Stop them on the street during school hours and inquire why they are not in school and encourage them to attend school. Go to the School Board meetings whether you have children or not. Become a school crossing guard. STOP BLAMING AND DO SOMETHING!!!

  10. Most policy, most of the time, has some “political” motivation in the sense of seeking support for the policymaker. The need, from my point of view, is for those who believe in African American education, to concentrate on how to use the opportunity.

    I would personally like to hear from others who are ready, willing, able to join in an electronic round table three months from now, six months from now, nine months from now, and twelve months from now on what to do about the use of this commission and on its development of “evidence-based practices.”

  11. Kalvin is right, this is solely a political ploy through and through. And others have a point in response to Kalvin: “better late than never”.

    But what does this actually do? I only envision someone in the Department of Ed being assigned to read the latest research on Black achievement/underachievement and educational attainment, bring it to the commission, and the commission in turn will advise and make recommendations to the POTUS regarding policies. That’s it. It’d probably take a decade before we even see any results on the ground, if indeed this staff and commission works effectively and gives the President good recommendations that he could even possibly implement (the best case scenario).

    How about a Executive Order that funds all schools (suburban AND inner-city) equally? How about an order that would really dismantle the school-to-prison pipleine? The money is there. Obama had enough taxpayer money to bailout his Wall St. banksters, expand the war machine to Africa, and keep drones in the skies of Waziristan, etc. Of course, many Black folks would rather turn a blind eye and defend the President unconditionally while screaming “stop whining” to folks who present legitimate criticisms (usually when they can’t offer a decent rebuttal). We already know what needs to be done in increase educational attainment and improve education outcomes in the Black community – the literature is robust. We can start creating jobs in the inner-city and by stopping the shipment of inner-city youth from under-funded, nearly condemned, obsolete schools to shiny, brand spankin’ new, state-of-the-art prisons.

    This executive order does nothing but give Obama supporters a “reason” to feel good about voting for him come this fall – despite no real tangible duty aside from lip service. The more discerning of folks see right through it.

    • No Executive Order is going to increase Black achievement in school or college.It is going to take the intense involvement of PARENTS to bring about needed educational improvement .Big government is not going to solve our problems. The government has never been bigger,yet Black unemployment is at a 27 year high.27 years !!!!! I notice that the entire so called Black leadership,including President Obama send their kids to private school. Yet these same people urge us to send our kids to public schools that have not educated for decades !

  12. Many people really like President Obama and would really like to see him win re-election. At the same time, to many African Americans, the President has seemed to overlook this very important voting block.

    With that said….many African American voters have given the president the right to pay no attention to the economic and educational issues of Blacks. These blacks would basically tell those blacks, who gave the president constructive criticism, to keep their mouths closed.

    It is sad that Obama did in fact cut HBCU funding, until HBCU presidents, chancellors and black voices struck back at the president. Only then did Obama restore that funding.

    Then Obama did cut Pell Grant funding for Summer school that impacts HBCUs directly.

    These actions can not be excused and did happen. History has these events documented.

    As Mike stated above. -Yes, President Obama spoke a number of times in 2007 and 2008 about what needs to be done to help African Americans with educational needs. Yet, Obama rushed to make an Executive Order for Hispanics in 2010 and it took the President until just 4 months before his reelection bid to do the same for African Americans. That’s very disappointing, when Obama received strong voter turnout from blacks in key states.

  13. The varied responses speak clearly to the diversity of opinion within the Black Community. No matter how you side on this issue, the Order is needed and I for one laud the President for extablishing it. Would you rather he hadn’t established such an initiative?

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Black Film Project and Film Studies Fellowships Established at Harvard University

Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, will direct the newly established Black Film Project, an initiative aiming to support independent films focusing on Black history and culture.

Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Yale Library Acquires Digital Collection of Langston Hughes Papers

In a recent December upload, the Yale University Library added a collection of papers from Black poet Langston Hughes to the school's online archive. The collection contains correspondence between Hughes and other authors and civil rights activists of his time.

Academic Fields Where Blacks Earned Few or No Doctoral Degrees in 2022

In 2022, African Americans earned 1.2 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 1.2 percent of all doctorates in computer science, 1.7 percent of all doctorates in chemistry, and only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

Featured Jobs