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Williams & Smith: The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color

A major part of the challenge, and a clear opportunity to intercede, lies in innovative supports and opportunities that improve the low levels of educational performance of many of these groups. Today, America’s youths experience intense pressures to succeed and perform without being given either the academic or social supports they need to thrive. Young people must be afforded multiple opportunities to reach their greatest potential in order to be ready for college, work and life. Our overarching belief is that early and sustained engagement in a continuum of meaningful educational opportunities helps create among disadvantaged young people a belief in the value of education, lifelong learning and attachment to work and prosperity. We believe these are essential prerequisites in the development and ultimate success of youths who would otherwise be in danger of permanent disfranchisement from the social and economic mainstream of America.“The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color” is not a research paper but rather uses existing research to amplify the voices of those from these affected communities. The conversations, called Dialogue Days, which the College Board convened during 2008, were designed to hear from researchers, activists and practitioners from the four groups mentioned. Those voices are powerfully expressive of the challenges facing members of their group. Still, the tone was hopeful, and that is why they have advanced a number of programs designed to make changes in the conditions they were so eloquent in describing. The College Board and the National Urban League wish this hopefulness to be the pre-eminent message taken from the report, because if we are to achieve President Barack Obama’s goal to produce 8 million additional college graduates by 2020, then we must move with clear purpose and with all due speed.Ronald Williams is vice president of the College Board. Hal Smith is vice president of education and youth development at the National Urban League. Read “The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color” here.

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