PROJECT 2019

PROJECT 2019 MENU
Return To: ISSUES LIST

Issue 17

Presently, Black Americans
Are An
Uneducated, Unenlightened People



During 246 years of Slavery, it was illegal to educate black Americans. During the 103-year Jim Crow era, educating black Americans was one of America’s lowest priorities. And during the first four decades of the Equal Opportunity era, black America has not made the educating of black Americans its number one priority. The end results of these unfortunate circumstances are reflected in the statistics and information below.

Reading Proficiency Rankings For High School Seniors: 2004

Rank Racial Or EthnicGroup
1 White (Non-Hispanic)
2 Asian / Pacific Islander
3 American Indian / AlaskanNative
4 Hispanic
5 Black American

Mathematics Proficiency Rankings For High School Seniors: 2004

Rank Racial Or EthnicGroup
1 Asian / Pacific Islander
2 White (Non-Hispanic)
3 Hispanic
4 American Indian / Alaskan Native
5 Black Americans

Science Proficiency Rankings For High School Seniors: 2004

Rank Racial Or EthnicGroup
1 Asian / Pacific Islander
2 White (Non-Hispanic)
3 American Indian / AlaskanNative
4 Hispanic
5 Black Americans


Completion Of 4 Years Of High School Or More
Americans 25 Years Old And Older

Year All
Americans
Black
Americans
White
Americans
Asian
Americans
1940 24.5% 7.7% 26.1% (NA)
1947 33.1% 13.6% 35.0% (NA)
1957 41.6% 18.4% 43.2% (NA)
1965 49.0% 27.2% 51.3% (NA)
1970 55.2% 33.7% 57.4% (NA)
1975 62.5% 42.5% 64.5% (NA)
1980 68.6% 51.2% 70.5% (NA)
1985 73.9% 59.8% 75.5% (NA)
1990 77.6% 66.2% 79.1% 80.4%
1996 81.7% 74.3% 82.8% 83.2%
2000 84.1% 78.5% 84.9% 85.7%
2002 84.1% 78.7% 84.8% 87.4%
2004 85.2% 80.6% 85.8% 86.8%
2006 85.5% 80.7% 86.1% 87.4%


Completion Of 4 Years Of College Or More
Americans 25 Years Old And Older

Year All
Americans
Black
Americans
White
Americans
Asian
Americans
1940 4.6% 1.3% 4.9% (NA)
1947 5.4% 2.5% 5.7% (NA)
1957 7.6% 2.9% 8.0% (NA)
1965 9.4% 4.7% 9.9% (NA)
1970 11.0% 4.5% 11.6% (NA)
1975 13.9% 6.4% 14.5% (NA)
1980 17.0% 7.9% 17.8% (NA)
1985 19.4% 11.1% 20.0% (NA)
1990 21.3% 11.3% 22.0% 39.9%
1996 23.6% 13.6% 24.3% 41.7%
2000 25.6% 16.5% 26.1% 43.9%
2002 26.7% 17.0% 27.2% 47.2%
2004 27.7% 17.6% 28.2% 49.4%
2006 28.0% 18.5% 28.4% 49.7%


College Degrees Earned
Percentage Earned By Black Americans: 2005

Level Of College Degree
Total
Degrees
Earned
% Earned
By Blacks
Associate's Degrees
696,660
12.4%
Bachelor's Degrees
1,439,264
9.5%
Master's Degrees
574,618
9.5%
Doctor' Degrees
52,631
5.8%
First-Professional Degrees
87,289
7.2%


Means Earnings By Highest Degree Earned: 2005

Mean Earnings
Educational Level Attained
(All Americans)
$39,579
All Educational Levels
$19,915
Some High School - Not a Graduate
$29,448
High School Graduate Only
$31,421
Some College - No Degree
$37,990
Associate's Degree
$54,689
Bachelor's Degree
$67,898
Master's Degree
$119,009
Professional Degree
$92,863
Doctorate


There is a great deal that can be said in regards to the statistics and data shown above. Dozens or even hundreds of suppositions, hypotheses, and theories are possible. There are, however, some obvious conclusions that may be agreed upon regarding education in America and, specifically, education and black Americans.

* The 1940’s were a pivotal point in history for the way that formal education would be regarded in America. In 1940, 164 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, less than twenty-five percent of Americans graduated from high school. Within twenty-five years, the percentage had doubled. By 1996, another thirty-one years later, more than eight of ten Americans were graduating from high school.

* The 1940’s were also a pivotal period for black America in regard to formal education. In 1940, less than eight of every one hundred black Americans had graduated from high school. Within twenty-five years, the percentage of black graduates had almost quadrupled. By 1996, nearly seventy-five of every one hundred black Americans were completing at least four years of high school.

* In 1940, only four out of every three hundred black Americans graduated from college. By the 1960’s, more than four out of every one hundred black Americans were earning college degrees. A case can be made that the surge in black high school graduates and the increase of college educated black Americans helped to ignite and sustain the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the leaders of the movement were well educated and some, like Martin Luther King, Jr., had earned doctoral degrees. It can also be argued that the increases in black high school and college graduation rates since 1960 has helped to fuel black America’s struggle for socioeconomic equality.

* America has become a nation where a formal education of at least four years of high school is routinely expected and almost universally accomplished. In a nation where diversity is the rule, there are very few things that are as universal as the more than eighty percent of Americans who graduate from high school. Less than eighty percent of Americans regularly vote, less than eighty percent attend church on a regular basis, and less than eighty percent eat hot dogs or even mom’s apple pie.

* Because formal education is now universal, it is impossible for formal education, or lack of formal education, to not have an impact on the economic status of Americans. Even if there were a reason to hire Americans with little or no formal education, it could be difficult to find them. A prospective employer advertising that a high school education was not a requirement would still, almost certainly, end up with more candidates who had completed high school than candidates who had not.

* It is impossible for black America’s shortfall in formal education to not contribute to its lower economic standing. If a company advertised that it had thousands of job openings but neglected to state that graduation from high school was a requirement, fourteen of every one hundred white Americans would be turned away at the door. Twenty of every one hundred black Americans would automatically be disqualified. If the same company were hiring recent college graduates, for every twenty-eight white Americans only eighteen black Americans would be eligible to apply.

* Black America’s lower economic standing causes or contributes to most of its social problems. Educated, gainfully employed Americans have no need for welfare and their children are more likely to live in two parent households. College educated Americans rarely engage in felonious criminal activities and are also less likely to be victims of crime. Economically successful Americans are less likely to abuse hard drugs and to engage in other risky behavior.

* Driven to a large extent by laws that make attending high school mandatory until reaching a specific age, black Americans have made a great deal more progress in reducing the disparity in secondary education than in reducing the gap in higher education. Unfortunately, some of this progress is only “on paper.” Although more black Americans are graduating from high school, for a number of reasons, their levels of academic skills are lower than the academic skills of other high school graduates. It should also be noted that General Educational Development (GED) certificates are included in high school graduation rate statistics.

* In 1957, three years after the Brown Supreme Court decision, 7.6% of all Americans earned at least a Bachelor’s degree. In 1980, twenty-three years later, 7.9% of black Americans earned at least a Bachelor’s degree. That is, it took black America a generation to get to where the rest of America had been a generation earlier. But also note that by 1980, the year that black Americans reached 7.9%, 17% of Americans were then earning at least a Bachelor’s degree. Black America would again “catch up.” By 2002, 17% of black Americans earned at least a Bachelor’s degree. But, again, it took black America twenty-two years, to get to where the rest of America had been a generation earlier. And note that by 2002, the year that black Americans reached 17%, 27.7% of Americans were then earning at least a Bachelor’s degree.

* The disparity between educational levels attained by white Americans and black Americans increases as educational level attained increases. The smallest gap exists in the completion of primary school. The gap widens for black and white high school graduates. It is even wider for undergraduate degrees earned and wider still for postgraduate degrees earned. In some fields, white Americans, based on their percentage of population, earn up to ten times more graduate, technical, and doctoral degrees as black Americans do.

* In light of two and a half centuries of Slavery followed by the century-long Jim Crow era, it is to black America’s credit that its educational level is as close as it is to the educational level of the rest of America. However, while black America has made progress, it still lags significantly behind the rest of America. Black Americans must understand that, in the twenty-first century and beyond, the most socially and economically successful Americans are and will continue to be the Americans with the most formal education.

Will Blacks Remain The Least Educated People…?
There can be no doubt that the disparity in education and knowledge that exists between black Americans and the rest of America is today, as it has always been, a major factor in black America’s lower socioeconomic standing. And there can be no doubt that this disparity in higher education has become the single greatest obstacle in black America’s struggle to reach total equality. Why, then, are most black Americans not aware of or convinced of this fact? Why is the quest for educational parity not black America’s number one priority? Why is eliminating the education and knowledge gap not an obsession in black America?

A standard response to these and similar questions is that black Americans do not receive a quality primary and secondary education and this limits their ability to reach higher educational levels. Another possible response is that college is expensive and economically prohibitive for most black Americans. Also, earning a college degree takes time and because black Americans are so economically disadvantaged, they must enter the workforce as quickly as possible.

Admittedly, black America reaching educational parity in a decade or two would be a formidable task. However, regardless of the difficulty of the task, the question still remains. Why is reaching educational parity not black America’s number one priority?

The most logical answer is that, for almost four hundred years, black America has been socially engineered to believe that formal education is for “white folks” and not for “black folks.” This would certainly explain black America’s apathy and lack of resolve regarding reaching educational parity. If black Americans, in the twenty-first century, do not believe that they need to reach educational parity and believe that they can do so, it is because of what black America was conditioned to believe during Slavery and the Jim Crow era.

In the past, white America had the power to and chose to keep black Americans uneducated and unenlightened. Today, black America has the power and the resources to ensure that black Americans are as educated and as knowledgeable as the rest of America. But this will happen only if and when black Americans – definitively and unequivocally – make reaching educational parity their number one priority.

If black America fails to do so, black Americans will remain the least educated and the least knowledgeable people in America. And, for this failing, black Americans will have only themselves to blame.


Return To: ISSUES LIST

PROJECT 2019 MENU