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EDUCATIONAL Development President Obama Signs New Initiative to Improve Educational Outcomes for By Sylvia Stanley Turner AND Monica A. White, Ed.D. In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America’s educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation, JOURNAL Summer 2013 s41 African Americans On July 26, 2012, President Barack Obama signed The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African-Americans. The initiative aims to ensure that all African-American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers. According to a senior administration official, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African- Americans is managed by the Department of Education. The department works with the president and cabinetlevel agencies "to identify evidencebased best practices to improve African American students' achievement in school and college." The initiative will also build a network of people, grassroots organizations and communities to share those practices. In addition, the executive order creates a presidential commission on educational advancement for African- American students, with commission members advising the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on broad-stroke strategies meant to enhance educational opportunities for African-Americans of all ages. “In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America's educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation. However, substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America's educational system,” said President Obama in the executive order. “African-Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education.” Dr. Gerry House, president and CEO of Institute for Student Achievement, an organization that supports the development of schools based on principles that produce collegeready students, believes several factors still affecting adequate education are “those conditions that create the economic disparities that lead to educational underperformance and school failure, such as poverty and lack of access to resources that are often more readily available to their white counterparts.” The initiative identifies the importance of teacher quality in the education of African-Americans. Yet, it stops short of support for teacher education programs that aid the teachers who would be placed in the communities serving the students the initiative is aimed to reach. “Acknowledging the significant racial disparity present in our educational system, the president's order is a significant game changer for millions of black students, their families and communities suffering from the impact of inadequate opportunities,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, in a Huffington Post blog. “Education is the key, and it's time we unlock the gates to equality, advancement and opportunity for all.” Dr. Kimberly White-Smith, assistant dean of Undergraduate Education at Chapman University, provided additional steps that can be taken towards quality teacher education. “More money and support is needed for schools and colleges of teach- —President Barack Obama “ ” continued on page 71


SummerJournal2013
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