The Black-White Achievement Gap by Rod Paige and Elaine Witty

First, I want to tell you that I feel inferior reviewing a book on the Black-White Achievement gap.  I am not black – I don’t have a black background, and I’m not educated to speak to the issue. 

I have been told that I am completely ignorant to the issues of race merely by the fact that I am white and grew up in a society that was almost entirely white (Central Oregon).  White people don’t seem to think that race plays a role in their lives, but we are all impacted by what shapes us – from the color of our skin, the country of our parents and grandparents origin, the socio-economic structure of our homelife, the level of education that our family has ascribed to.

That being said, I am very excited for this book.  I have a passion for the inner city. This book speaks directly to the issues that need to be solved in order for us to make a difference and change the tide of poverty cycles.

Academically, this book is one of the best researched and well written that I have ever read.  Many academians want to speak to an issue, but not offer solutions.  Rod Paige, former US Secretary of Education, and his sister, Dr. Elaine Witty offer historical options for the problems, refutations and arguments for the psychological basis, and solutions, including examples. 

Not only do I think this is an excellent book and an important offering, but it is also incredibly educational for those of us who don’t have a black history awareness.  History, is written from a perspective.  Our education system is attempting to make right this issue, but when I went through the system, we weren’t taught (for instance) how slavery started, or that when people first started coming to the U.S., both black and white came as indentured servants and worked their way out of servitude.  In the chapter The Origins of the Problem, I found a brief history of African Americans, some of which was new information.  Thankfully, my children are receiving a much more rounded view of history.

Not only should you read this book, but I encourage you to hand it off to someone else and join the conversation.  Kids in our cities are dropping out of school at an alarming rate.  The impact of a low education will not only impact their financial outcomes, but it will set their own children at a disadvantage.  According to this book, a three year old child of a family on welfare’s vocabulary consists of about 500 words as opposed to the same child in a professional family having about 1,100 words.   Although there are a lot of reasons why someone would end up on welfare, a low education and inability to support oneself is certainly a top contender.

Additionally:

 *   According to expert calculations from census data, dropouts are almost twice as likely as high school graduates to land in prison at some point in their lives, and people who never go to college are more than three times as likely as college graduates to be incarcerated. Improving the high school graduation and college enrollment rates for young African American males directly translates into fewer African American men in prison each year.

 *   Low income, lack of health care, higher crime rates, and many other factors connected to education combine to shorten the lives of African Americans. To put it bluntly, the black-white achievement gap kills-and so does the indifference of those who could be doing something about it, but aren’t.

This is an important book for our time.  We need to make a difference,  You can buy this book at Amazon.com.

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