Rationale: Education is a Civil Right

The historic and documented educational underachievement of African-American students in public schools throughout the nation is the most glaring inequity and unfulfilled initiative of the incessant struggle for social justice during the 20th and 21st centuries. Educational justice remains the most significant civil right that has not been provided to all African-American students and families.

It is essential that a formal Black Educational Civil Rights Agenda be established, accepted, implemented, and supported with adequate and necessary resources by all stakeholders who recognize the fundamental right of all citizens to a free and appropriate public education. It is also essential to recognize that it is a disadvantage to all if a significant group of Americans remains consistently mis- and under-educated.

A BLACK EDUCATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS AGENDA
THE PLAN

I. Focus Areas

Four primary areas are targeted to impact the educational outcomes for African-American students and families in K–12 education.

  1. Implement educational policies and practices (including personnel assignments, training, and evaluation)  that advance and promote educational excellence for all African-American students.
  2. Improve high school graduation rates for all African-American students.
  3. Improve the educational progress and status of African-American male and female students by understanding and coping with gender-specific needs. A special focus must address the causes of, and solutions to, the underachievement of African-American male students.
  4. Provide support for parents and families of underachieving African-American students.

II. Action Items and Recommendations

Focus Area 1: Implement educational policies and practices (including personnel assignments, training, and evaluation) that advance and promote educational excellence for all African-American students.

Focus Area 2: Improve high school graduation rates for all African-American students.

 

Focus Area 3: Improve the educational progress and status of African-American male and female students by understanding and coping with gender-specific needs. A special focus must address the causes of, and solutions to, the underachievement of African-American male students.

Focus Area 4: Provide support for parents and families of underachieving African-American students.

The Education Is A Civil Right Committee

In February 2006 a group of professional educators, elected officials including local school board members, community representatives, and civic leaders in the Southern California area – in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Alliance of Black School Educators (LACABSE) – began to meet and discuss the need for an enhanced and focused approach to the improvement of educational outcomes of African-American students in public schools. The initial group expanded its efforts to regular planning sessions with other groups, which included the Alliance of California African American Superintendents, the Council of Black Administrators (COBA), the NAACP-Los Angeles, and the Western Regional Council on Educating Black Children (WRCEBC). Our work resulted in the finalization in April 2007 of a formal document, "A Black Educational Civil Rights Agenda" (BECRA), that is designed to provide strategies and activities for use in school districts serving a significant population of African-American students.

The planning group was formalized into the Education is a Civil Right Committee (ECRC), which is based in the Los Angeles area. It is our intent to stimulate discussion, collaborations, and action throughout the nation for the purpose of holding ourselves, local communities, school districts, state officials, and national legislators accountable for developing effective responses to the action items identified in the BECRA that address the inequitable educational outcomes for African-American students as a long-denied civil right. We further intend to pursue legal, educational, political, and economic resources that are required to provide adequate responses. Please refer to our website, at EducationIsACivilRight.com, for updates on meetings and activities.

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