So I was listening to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, and heard a story that absolutely broke my heart, yet confirmed what I see everyday in my classroom. According to data recently released and published in the New York Times, the achievement gap for African-American males is "jaw-dropping." The report argues that the achievement gaps start at young ages, noting that while 12 percent of black boys in the fourth grade are proficient in reading, 38 percent of white boys are proficient. In eighth grade, 12 percent of black boys and 44 percent of white boys are proficient in math.
Think that sounds bad? Read on.
African-American high school boys drop out nearly twice as often as their white peers, and their SAT scores fall on average 104 points lower.
Black males make up only five-percent of the college student population, while 36-percent of the prison population is made up of black males.
For the African-American community, this is an emergency, and the solution to the problem starts with each one of us. We can't continue to allow our young men to fall by the way side. So what can you do?
BECOME A MENTOR!
Yes, I said it, become a mentor. Take an hour out of your busy, self-absorbed week, and spend it with a young person. It can be your nephew, your cousin, your little brother, a kid at church, a next door neighbor or that little boy who always seems to be wandering around your neighborhood looking for trouble. Don't know any kids? No problem! Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA/YWCA and the United Way are excellent places that can put you in contact with young people who are in desperate need of mentors. And before you make another excuse, it doesn't have to cost you any money. You can be a mentor for free! To a young person, simply having your presence is worth more than any amount of money you could spend. Encouraging them to try their best in school, giving a word of advice about a problem, or just being an example of what a positive adult looks like can mean more than you know.
So here's a challenge for you. Instead of getting together with your homeboys to drink beer and play Madden, go be a mentor.
Instead of spending a Saturday afternoon shopping at the mall, go be a mentor.
Instead of sitting back and watching the problem get worse, GO BE A MENTOR!
This is an issue we can't afford to ignore. As previously stated, research shows that high-school dropouts (who are more likely to be black) are more likely to be incarcerated, to rely on social services, and to go without health insurance. Cutting the dropout rate in half would generate an additional $45 billion in federal tax revenue and cost savings.
Simply put, as a nation we can spend our time to help get our young men back on track, or we can continue spending our money by letting them slip through the cracks.
So what will YOU do?