High School Graduation Rates Improve for Minority Students

Posted By GoodCall Contributor on May 1, 2015 at 10:33 am
High School Graduation Rates Improve for Minority Students

Between 2011 and 2013, African American and Hispanic students boosted their rate of completing high school nearly 4 percent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education, that outstrips overall gains in graduation rates by all students.  U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, attributes part of the increase to a metric introduced in 2010 – the adjusted cohort graduation rate. This metric created greater accountability, along with strategies to reduce dropout rates.

This development indicates more minorities are ready to continue on with the kind of education and training demanded by a service- and knowledge-based economy.  By 2020, minorities will represent 39 percent of the U.S. population, according to the NCES.

The Department of Labor projects that nineteen of the fastest growing occupations between now and 2022 will require , postsecondary education. Meanwhile, manufacturing is expected to lose 549,500 jobs.  Essentially, the best paying of those jobs will entail the ability to solve problems in disruptive ways using both human and data-based thinking.

Diversity is the cornerstone of innovation

A prerequisite for that high level of innovation is diversity in the workplace, which prevents “group think” in and of itself. Scott E. Page, a systems specialist, explains those dynamics in his book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.” The Institute for the Future envisions diversity as becoming a “core competency” in the world of work. That entails employees’ learning how to harness the differences among themselves – ranging from racial and ethnic background to specialization and age – as the platform for disruptive services and products.

Where challenges still exist

For minorities to have a shot at the future’s highest-paying jobs, more will have to enroll full time in four-year institutions of higher learning. According to the National Science Foundation, they remain underrepresented there, often choosing two-year degrees instead. In STEM fields, reports Brown University, minorities have been underrepresented, both at that university and nationally. Since 2000, degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) have been largely flat, with a decline in math degrees. A third of African American students attend high schools that don’t offer calculus.

Need to reauthorize ESEA

Meanwhile, Secretary Duncan’s mission is ensuring that current progress will be sustained and accelerated. One initiative is reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, ESEA was targeted at establishing equality of opportunity in education for the disadvantaged. A major focus has been preschool learning experiences.

In a speech last January at Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan asked Congress to reauthorize ESEA,positioning equality of education as a civil right. His vision is that the latest evolution will move away from No Child Left Behind. The emphasis is on preschool and more resources for all teachers in all school districts.  Secretary Duncan also announced that President Barack Obama will request a $2.7 billion increase for ESEA in his 2016 budget.

The education/income link

The economic link between education and income is well-evidenced. According to DOL, occupations requiring postsecondary education tend to have higher wages. Moreover, they are expected to grow 14 percent by 2022. That represents the new economy version of the American Dream for African Americans and Hispanics. The first step? Graduating from high school.

This article was contributed to GoodCall by Jane Genova. Jane has an MA in literature and lingustics from the University of Michigan and attended Harvard Law School. She has taught writing at the Universities of Michigan, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. Her publication credits include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Hartford Courant, Newsday, AOL, Payment Week, Wall Street Jobs Report, Motley Fool and IP Watchdog. She co-authored the book “The Critical 14 Years of Your Professional Life.” She owns and operates an executive communications boutique in Tucson, Arizona.


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