When an 8th grader can’t read, Americans have a real problem
He is in the 8th grade and cannot read at the expected proficiency level. He is like 87% of his peers. He is a Black male—but not from a third world county. He lives in the United States of America.
1. Recognizing the Problem
The number of Black children with single females as the head of the household is 72%. The website www.BlackMaleAchievement.org reports that only 17.7% of Black males are reading at or above proficiency levels by the time they reach 4th grade. The numbers do not get any better by the time Black males reach the 8th grade. At this point, 12% of Black males are reading at proficiency levels, marking a decline from the fourth grade. The 2010 Schott Foundation 50 State Report found that only 47% of African-American males graduate from high school. Black men age 16 and older account for 5.4% of the civilian labor force but 10.4% of the unemployed. Black males were 40% of the male inmates held in state or federal prisons or local jails, as of June 2009.
We see from this information that single Black females are having children whom they are left to raise by themselves. In 72% of these households, no father is present, leaving the mothers to operate without the proper support. Black males suffer from a lack of positive Black male role models in the house from the very beginning. This pattern starts a pipeline from birth to illiteracy, leading to dropping out of high school, high unemployment, and incarceration.
2. Providing the Solution
Current approaches to this problem have been fragmented and have not developed a scalable model or system. The data shows that, in many ways, having fathers in the lives of children greatly increases the likelihood of improving the social problems plaguing us today. Research has noted several positive outcomes when a father is present in his children’s life, such as better socio-emotional and academic functioning, fewer emotional and behavioral problems, higher educational outcomes, and lower rates of poverty, infant mortality, incarceration, delinquency, teen pregnancy, obesity, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Fathers in Education (FIE), www.FathersInEducation.org, seeks to involve 10,000 fathers in their children’s education. Initially, the organization aims to get fathers involved in increasing the number of Black male children reading proficiently by the time they reach 3rd grade. The hope of the organization is that these fathers will stay engaged in their children’s educational attainment through high school and beyond.
Originally appeared on Black Life Coaches by Alvin S. Perry