Baby Moses Project: Solving the Crisis of the Black Boy
Part II – Reading the Questions
Monday, May 21, 2007
Frame the question in the direction of a solution, not toward a scapegoat. The questions below seem to sincerely seek an answer to the crisis among young black boys. It is important to look at the situation through the eyes of the one who asks the questions. Sometimes there are subtle implied assumptions that may or may not be true.
Can you compare the success of African American boys with that of Latino boys and Asian American boys? Key differences, similarities.
Henry M. Levin:
Asian boys do better than Latino or African American boys on all educational measures. Latino boys show higher dropout rates than African American boys, the exact numbers depending on which of the many competing measures of dropouts are used. The consequences of dropping out are greater for black males in terms of the probability of being employed, annual earnings, and crime. For example, only about half of black males who are high school dropouts are employed compared to about 70 percent of the other dropout groups (white, Latino, Asian). Partially, as a consequence, African American male dropouts receive only about $13,500 in average annual earnings compared to about $ 22,000 for the other male dropout groups.
Eddie Griffin commentary:
Notice there are “many competing measures of dropouts”… The issue of defining the problem of Drop-Outs is nobody really knows when a black boy drops out of school. At what point, do we say, this child has completely withdrawn from school, and why are so many GEDs showing up after drop-out? Is it 50% absences?
Fact is: Dropouts slip away, as if through our fingers. The Big Question is: Why didn’t we see them slipping away from us?
This past winter I appeared on a panel at Tarrant County College with the Fort Worth ISD new head of the Dropout Prevention specialist, Dr. Danna Dia Joseph. The panel was shared with the three high school dropouts. The 21-year old young (white) man described how he “just slipped away”, out of the school system, as if nobody cared.
I have seen dropping out in process, myself. I have seen elementary school (black) boys riding their bicycles in front of the schoolhouse when they should be inside. They were truant, and there were no truant officers to rein them in. Whose neglect? And, why can’t we arrive at a common measure for “dropout”.
In the work world we can track workers in and out of industry by a time clock. Ringing bells are for cattle. Time clocks are for measuring productivity. Dropping out should be defined as a loss of measurable productivity. We can know a dropout by the number of man-hours (or lack thereof) that they put into school. But man-hours alone do not measure productivity. And, hour units of productivity can be transferred and shouldered by other education or training institutes, such as dual enrollment.
“African-American male dropouts” (now an average of 50%) will earn only about $13,500 in annual earnings”… At current minimum wage, working day labor, he would earn roughly $10,000 before taxes.
Even dropouts become fathers. How can they bear fatherly responsibilities on this kind of earnings? Even the currently proposed minimum wage hike would raise him up to about $14,000 a year, at max.
The solution is high paying jobs for highly trained dropouts. But poring in quality resources to train and empower, post-dropout programs channel youth to the lowest end of the wage scale. A retrained, reeducated, re-socialized African-American child can reinvest their time best by trying to get ahead in the job market and through certified trades and entrepreneurship.