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From the Dean

Posted by on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in From the Dean, Summer 2010.

Among the many challenges facing American education, the achievement gap remains one of the most insidious and resistant to change.

By the fourth grade, African American and Latino students run three academic years behind their white peers.

Only 55 percent of Latino and 51 percent of African American students graduate from high school, compared to 79 percent of Asian students and 76 percent of white students.

Of students who enter college, the gap in completion rates between minority students and their white peers is about 20 percentage points, with only about 40 percent of minority students graduating within six years.

Following schooling, the achievement gap becomes an economic gap that reinforces a negative cycle. Adults with only a high school degree are estimated to earn $1 million less over the course of their lifetimes than those with a college degree. In the current recession, the unemployment rate for high school graduates is more than twice that of college graduates.

These dismal statistics reflect a picture that has changed little since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed in 1965 with the hope that it would equalize educational opportunities for low-income students. With the ESEA up for reauthorization, it comes as little surprise that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been framing education as “the civil rights issue of our generation.”

So it is perhaps appropriate that in this issue of The Reflector, we take a long look at the many dimensions of the achievement gap, and the many ways that Peabody College faculty are working to address this vexing educational and social problem.

Also in this issue, Associate Dean James Hogge reflects on two very different decades of service in the dean’s office. As Jim prepares for a “partial” retirement beginning this summer, I would be remiss in not taking this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks for his 43 years of service to Peabody College. We are extremely grateful.

Camilla P. Benbow

Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development


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