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To Be Equal

Guest Editorials

NUL Survey Finds African American Parents Overwhelmingly Support Equitable Implementation Of CCCS

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” Mary McLeod Bethune

This week, the National Urban League released a new survey that shows overwhelming support from one of the most important, but rarely heard voices in the roiling and often distorted debate over Common Core State Standards—African American parents. Our survey of 1,600 African American public school parents found that 60% of respondents have a favorable impression of the new Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math that have now been adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed parents believe that Common Core will improve student achievement, and 66% believe it will better prepare their children for college or the workforce. The survey also shows that a majority of parents believe what the National Urban League believes as well—that Common Core standards offer great potential for transformative educational excellence, but only if parents are pro-actively engaged, teachers are adequately trained and resources for schools and students are equitably disbursed.

Given the history and current state of unequal education in America, many African American parents are rightly concerned that their children not be short-changed by an inequitable implementation of Common Core. A majority of respondents (58%) agree that the school their child attends lacks the resources and facilities to effectively teach Common Core State Standards, and 54% agree that teachers are not prepared to teach the standards. Those numbers jumped to 64% and 62%, respectively, for parents with children enrolled in predominately African American schools. This underscores the importance of ongoing efforts to ensure that students in all schools have the resources to learn and teachers have the resources to effectively teach the Common Core.

While the National Urban League has taken a leading role in educating parents about this issue via our Put Our Children 1st: Common Core for Common Goals campaign, our survey suggests that efforts will be necessary moving forward as well to dispel the myths and deliberate distortions that have been touted by many of Common Core’s politically-motivated opponents. Seventy-six percent of the parents surveyed understood that Common Core State Standards are a state-led effort that establishes a single set of educational standards, but 70% are under the misconception that the federal government was involved in their creation. This demonstrates the importance of continued work to ensure the dissemination of accurate information about the Standards.

Nothing is more important in a child’s education than parental involvement. As I said in announcing the survey results earlier this week, “Our survey of African American parents on Common Core State Standards strongly indicates that when parents are fully informed—void of distortion, myth and political agendas, they tend to support Common Core and its potential to transform public education and help ensure that all of our children—regardless of their family income, zip code or ethnicity—are prepared for college or career. When parents are empowered and knowledgeable about the expectations and goals of Common Core, they are able to tune out the political rhetoric—and tune in to the potential for their children.”

For more on our survey findings and to learn more about the National Urban League’s “Put Our Children 1st” parent education campaign, visit www.PutOurChildren1st.org.

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.


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Online Colleges Flunk Common Sense

BY JULIANNE MALVEAUX

The most common model of college attendance is that a young person who graduates from high school and heads directly to college, perhaps taking a year off in between to work, take a “13th class.” While many students start off right after high school, some of them have breaks in their higher education, dropping out to save money to continue, or to deal with family matters.

The most common model is not the only model, however. Mature adults who did not attend or finish college through the most common model are referred to as “returning students” or “nontraditional students.” Some get their degrees through online programs. A few colleges (Bay Path College in Massachusetts, is one example) have developed Saturday programs where women can earn a four-year degree by attending college only on Saturdays.

Concerned by high unemployment rates and eager to enhance their employability, many mature college students turn to for-profit colleges (sometimes called “career colleges”) for their education. Some of these students, barraged by television ads, are convinced that for-profit colleges, where they can attend during the evening or online, allow them the flexibility they need to manage work, family and education. And since federal funds, such as Pell grants and subsidized loans, are available to take care of costs, some students who attend for-profit colleges are pressured to take out these loans. If they drop out, they are still required to repay their loans, just as they would have to in any other college.

But all colleges are not created equal. About once a week, I get a call from a mature student whose time at a career college was unrewarding. One woman failed a math test but could not get feedback from her instructor on what she did wrong. Appeals to others in the chain of command went unanswered.

In another case, a young woman desperately needed counseling. She ended up getting it from a community organization, not from her career college. To cite just a few cases to make a point is casual empiricism, but my direct knowledge of some students’ plight raises a few questions for me.

Many students get training, but not jobs. Many are saddled with loans they cannot ever afford to repay; and the costs of attending career colleges are high. The Department of Education estimates that it costs four times as much to attend a career college as to attend a community college.

Why are costs so high when services are so limited?

Partly because many career colleges are publicly traded and the pressure is on for them to make a profit to provide dividends for their shareholders. Another reason is that salaries for leaders are extremely high. At ITT Technical Institute, CEO Kevin Monday earned $8.76 million in 2012. DeVry University President Daniel Hamburger earned $6.4 million in 2012. The Apollo Group, which includes the University of Phoenix, paid Gregory Cappelli $4.54 million in 2013, and the Chairman Emeritus received nearly $7 million each year in 2012 and 2013. In contrast only four presidents at public universities earned more than a million dollars. Harvard’s president earns about $900,000, but some of her benefits boost her salary to about 1.2 million.

These so-called career colleges are actually profit centers. The disproportionate enrollment of Black and brown students means that folks who are already poor and underpaid are creating profits for these publicly traded companies and their overpaid leaders. At ITT Technical Institute, the overwhelming majority of students (92 percent) were self-identified members of a racial and ethnic group. Nearly four in five took out a Pell grant. At DeVry about 45 percent were minority students. Meanwhile, students who enroll in these colleges and do not graduate (the majority) have nothing to show for their education but more debt.

That’s why the Department of Education is limiting the amount of federal loans that students can take out, pegging loan amounts to ability to pay, based on students’ current salaries and income. “Attendance at career colleges should be a gateway to the middle class,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Too often mobility is downward, not upward, when large student loans go unpaid. The new regulations are imperfect, but a step in the right direction. They might be more efficient, but the for-profit colleges have lobbied hard, and gone to court, to prevent cautionary regulations.

Students of color who consider these colleges need to make sure they know what they are getting. Otherwise, they are up for a big surprise when student loans bills come due. For-profit colleges are exactly that, for profit. Students are not necessarily being educated, instead being treated as a profit center.

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist based in Washington, D.C.


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The State of Black America

“The talented tenth, elitist thinking Negroes, have nothing to offer the masses of Black people. Their minds have never functioned in the all-important sphere of economic independence.” —Booker T. Washington

The state of Black America only goes as far as the state of Blacks’ politics. Blacks’ status and politics have remained static for 40 years. Records show that the vast majority of Black Americans are stuck in and satisfied with “the status quo.” Blacks continue to vote for the same people that they have time and time again over the past four decades. According to a recent University of Chicago study, African- American males haven’t advanced one bit since 1971. Overall, the economic status and state of Black America lacks movement.

Blacks have been sold a bill of goods by Democrats and engage in political actions that are just plain nonsensical. For instance: Across the country, Blacks treat elected officials more akin to “celebrities” than “public servants.” Blacks and Whites are at opposite spectrums when it comes to economics and elected politicians. Polls show half of Whites saying: “If Blacks tried harder, they would be as well-off as Whites.” Just 18 percent of African Americans agree. Instead of attributing our state of rigor mortis to racism, Blacks need to take note that if they: “Keep doing what they’ve been doing, they will continue to get what they’ve been getting.” As their city crumbled around them, in lemming-like fashion, Detroit-area voters recently re-elected 85-year-old John Conyers to the congressional seat he has held since 1965. Likewise, Black New Yorkers sent censured 13th District Representative Charles Rangel back to Congress. A political kingmaker, Rangel has served continuously since 1971.

The state of the Black race remains inert because we don’t vote with strategic plans or purpose. Black Americans’ economic status is thin as our overall dependencies and mindsets toward entitlements escalate. It’s as if African Americans can’t see beyond “big government socialism” and reliance on the state. Because of our emphasis on the political franchise, too often Blacks view government as omnipotent never giving thought to what good governance represents. Politically unsophisticated Blacks’ agenda are led by Democratic Party operatives. With a $17 trillion deficit looming over their heads and the lives of their children, Blacks continue to defend President Barack Obama’s lame-duck tenure as if all Americans measure as we do.

Since the well-intentioned federal programs of the New Deal, Blacks have allowed government dependency to destroy essential elements necessary for success: marriage, family and work. In a misguided ideology, those Blacks put all their eggs in government baskets, while opposing the free- enterprise system and its constructs, in every way possible.

As Americans go forward someone has to be held accountable. The enemy is either ourselves or the officials we keep sending back to public office. Under decades of Democrats’ political rule in Black populations, one in four lives in poverty—three times the rate of Whites. African-American unemployment rates run twice the rate of Whites and Black households have the lowest median income ($30,134) among race groups. Employed Blacks earn 77 percent of Whites’ wages in comparable jobs.

More than half of Americans rely on some form of government assistance—165 million. Of these, 107 million rely on welfare, 46 million seniors benefit from Medicare and 22 million are federal government employees. Eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax credit, work pay tax credit and unemployment benefits total more than 70 percent of federal spending.

Blacks need meaningful capitalistic and private-sector endeavors. Terms such as “job creation” must become more commonplace in Blacks’ vernacular. To fully acquire American capitalistic success, Blacks must expand social and political views beyond liberalism and socialism.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the Baileygroup.org.