Last Saturday, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) joined hundreds of parents, teachers and education advocates for a summit on the State of Black Education in Los Angeles and across the nation. Participants discussed initiatives at both the national and local levels to address inequality within the education system, just days before the 59th Anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which established that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.
Despite the progress since the Brown decision, great disparities continue to exist. The California-based Education Trust -- West reviewed findings from its recent report that noted that by the time African American youth in Los Angeles reach the 2nd grade, they already demonstrate significant learning gaps that only get worse the longer they stay in school, resulting in higher high school drop-out rates, a majority of black children being unprepared for college and many placed on a fast track to prison.
"This weekend's discussion about the state of African American education was a powerful opportunity to galvanize attention around the need to do more to make sure a generation of African American youth isn't lost to a broken education system, where some places are doing just fine and others continue to struggle with providing an adequate education for our youth," said Congresswoman Bass after the event.
"I was pleased to see such a huge crowd turnout for this event because it shows there is a community of leaders ready to assist in finding solutions for the road ahead. Now that we have gotten a good look at where things stand, it's incumbent upon all of us to move forward in developing possible next steps to hold us all accountable for fixing what is broken and praising what is working when it comes to educating African American youth. I'm hopeful that this meeting will be one of many urging stakeholders at all levels of government and within the community to redouble our efforts at making sure African American youth can get the best education possible."
Congresswoman Bass was joined by panelists: President and CEO of the California Endowment Dr. Robert Ross, Executive Director of the Education Trust -- West Dr. Arun Ramanathan, National Council on Educating Black Children Secretary Dr. Pamela Short Powell, and Executive Director of the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators Dwight Bonds.