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Washington, U.S.A. — National Urban League president and CEO Marc H. Morial has applauded President Barack Obama’s creation of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, calling it “an important endeavor that will highlight the barriers and challenges to African-American educational achievement, and develop solutions to improve outcomes.”
The executive order was announced during the president’s recent speech to the National Urban League’s annual conference in New Orleans, and will coordinate efforts to harmonize programs for African-American students. The executive order will also identify evidence-based practices to improve students’ achievement in school and college and develop a national network of individuals, organizations and communities that will share and implement these practices. The initiative also will create a new President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans and a federal interagency working group on educational excellence.
“Expanding educational opportunities, and ensuring equity and excellence at scale for our students is a shared goal of the National Urban League and the new White House initiative,” Morial added. “We look forward to partnering with the Administration and Congress to expand policies that will help close the achievement gap for African-American students and prepare them for 21st century jobs.”
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics underscore the growing disparity between minority and white academic achievement, and the urgency for action. Black and Hispanic students trailed their white peers by an average of more than 20 points on the NAEP math and reading assessments at 4th and 8th grades, a difference of about two grade levels. These gaps persisted even though the score differentials between black and white students narrowed between 1992 and 2007 in 4th grade math and reading and 8th grade math (NCES, 2009, 2011).
The National Urban League, with its nationwide network of 97 affiliates in 36 states, has a long history of providing educational services to low-income, minority students from early childhood and Head Start programs, to middle and high school students through the signature program, Project Ready, an out-of-school time program that emphasizes positive youth development. An enhancement of Project Ready, Project Ready STEM, focuses on a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum and exposes youth to future STEM careers.