President Obama has signed an Executive Order that will improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will work across Federal agencies and partner with communities nationwide to create a more effective continuum of education programs to benefit African American students and ensure they receive an education which properly prepares them for high school graduation and college completion.
In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America's educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation. Many African American children who attended substandard, segregated schools in the 1950s have grown up to see their children attend integrated and effective elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
However, substantial obstacles still remain to the goal of equal educational opportunity. African American students still often lack equal access to safe schools, challenging college preparatory courses and effective teachers. They also disproportionately experience referral to special education and school discipline.
Significantly improving the educational outcomes of African Americans will provide substantial benefits for our country by advancing important outcomes, like increasing college completion rates, employment rates, and the number of African American teachers. Enhanced educational outcomes for African Americans will lead to more productive careers, improved economic mobility and security, and greater social well-being for all Americans.
President Obama has already set the goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Providing better access to higher education opportunities for the under-represented African American demographic is an important pillar that builds towards this larger goal.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will work with the Executive Office of the President and Cabinet agencies to improve African American student achievement in school and college. It will develop a national network of individuals and communities that implement best practices identified through evidence-based research.
Objectives that will be promoted by the Initiative include: Increasing the percentage of African American children who have access to high quality early learning and development programs for pre-kindergarteners; Ensuring African American students have access to support services; Supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, development and retention of successful African American teachers and principals; Reducing the high school dropout rate of African American students; and improving the quality of, and access to, adult education.
The Executive Order also creates the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. This body will aid and advise the work of the Initiative while engaging the business and philanthropic communities in dialogue about how to improve African American achievement.