President, U.S. Programs – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Two years after twin milestones in U.S. education – the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board and the first time students of color became the majority in U.S. public schools – the state of education in Black America today is at a critical juncture. The achievement gap between children of color and their classmates continues to widen, and too many students are simply not being equipped with the tools that they need to succeed in a rapidly changing, global society.
Why? Because in areas where children of color are concentrated and poverty is pervasive, we are falling short of providing a high-quality education for students.
Of the 50.2 million students enrolled in public schools in the U.S. today, 16 percent are Black. While our national graduation rate is at 82 percent, the graduation rate for Black students is 73 percent. Those who do reach that graduation milestone are not as prepared as their classmates for learning beyond high school. Upon entering college, only 12 percent of Black students are ready to succeed without taking remediation courses (basic skills courses) that can be so costly they lessen the odds of some students attaining a degree.