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September 26, 2014

On September 23, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) released the report Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity. The report aims to eliminate barriers rooted in racial and gender discrimination so that African American girls and other children of color have access to equal educational opportunities. 

The report provides a historical perspective that captures the critical role African American women have played in desegregating schools and ensuring all students, irrespective of race, have access to a high quality education. Unlocking Opportunity then discusses how even today racial and gender stereotypes permeate classrooms, notes the additional barriers that African American girls face, and points out the academic indicators showing that these stereotypes and barriers are preventing African American girls from reaching their full potential.

Finally, the report sets forth a series of recommendations for eliminating the barriers that African American girls and other students of color face. The report calls on policy makers to provide sufficient resources in schools attended by African American students.

According to Unlocking Opportunity, decision makers must:

  • ensure that school funding is distributed equitably;
  • ensure that predominantly African American schools have equitable access to rigorous curricula, including high-level STEM and Advanced Placement courses;
  • ensure that students in high-need schools are taught by qualified, experienced and credentialed teachers who have degrees in their assigned teaching areas;
  • support equitable implementation of academic standards, so that all students are exposed to important foundational learning courses and challenged to develop critical thinking, reading, and math skills;
  • invest in equitable supports, including such things as transportation and supplies, for students to engage in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Unlocking Opportunity also acknowledges a number of recent proposals that would help improve educational outcomes for all African American children---boys and girls, such as:

  • expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education through increased investments in child care, Head Start, and full day preschool;
  • increasing access to educational opportunities that promote diversity, such as magnet schools;
  • ensuring that federal funding is fairly distributed and schools with limited resources receive targeted federal support; and
  • ensuring that state, local, and federal funds are used to help schools reduce racial and gender disparities in education.

The report is co-authored by Leticia Smith-Evans and Janel George from (NAACP LDF), and Fatima Goss Graves, Lara S. Kaufmann and Lauren Frohlich from (NWLC).

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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