Will the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans Matter?

Published by Andre Showell on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm.

(Photo: Commercial Appeal/Landov)

By Andre Showell

An executive order aimed at improving outcomes and advancing educational opportunities for African-Americans sounds like a great idea at first glance, but will the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans really make a difference in eliminating the education gap between Blacks and other groups?

The White House asserts that improving education outcomes for African-Americans will provide substantial benefits for the country and potentially increase college completion and employment rates.

But, according to President Obama during his address before an audience at the National Urban League’s convention in New Orleans this week, success comes with a price. He said, “Of course, that means all of you all have got to hit the books. America says we will give you opportunity, but you’ve got to earn your success.”

But the White House has already established similar initiatives for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and Native Americans. Why has one only now been established for African-Americans who have, for generations, lagged behind other groups in school? And what has been the concrete measure of success for those other White House initiatives?

The Congressional Black Caucus’ chair Emanuel Cleaver, II released a statement regarding the executive order saying, “The President has made providing a complete and high-caliber education for all Americans a top priority, and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans is a critical component to ensuring that all students have equal access to quality education.”

I’m sure the African-American achievement gap is important to this administration, but the timing, just a few months before an all-important election that will hinge on Black voters, is worth noting.

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