Statistically African Americans have faced many obstacles and barriers towards education, career growth, generational wealth and overall self improvement. Because a few African Americans have succeeded, many may want to contend that the struggle for equality is over and is it within the grasp of all to achieve success.
Unfortunately this is not always the case. Many African Americans, particularly those who suffer from poverty, are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to educational attainment and higher achievement. That said, I believe it is within our grasp to overcome all of these statistics if we work together.
In the United States, more than 16 million children (22% of all children) live in families below the federal poverty level. Another 31.8 million (44%) live in low-income families. Blacks, American Indians, and Hispanics children are disproportionately affected by these criteria. For comparison.
- 31 percent of white children – 11.7 million – live in low-income families
- 65 percent of black children – 6.4 million – live in low-income families
- 63 percent of Hispanic children – 11.0 million – live in low-income families
- 31 percent of Asian children – 1.1 million – live in low-income families
- 63 percent of American Indian children – 0.3 million – live in low-income families
- 43 percent of children of some other race – 1.4 million – live in low-income families
Poverty has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive abilities and self esteem and it can contribute to social, emotional and behavioral problems. Students raised in lower income families are at greater risk for having other inhibiting factors such as intellectual disparities and limitations in educational attainment including cognitive, behavioral and socio-emotional difficulties. They are also more likely to drop out of school and experience greater lengths of unemployment than their peers. From the start, children from low-income households enter kindergarten scoring substantially in vocabulary and literacy development, math, and social and emotional skills lower than their peers from higher-income families. This deficiency carries on throughout high school. (Halle et al., 2009; Lee & Burkham, 2002). See the Study
The chart below helps illustrate the correlation between poverty and academic readiness.
The first 3 years of life are a period of exponential growth in all areas of a child’s development. Neural connections that are used frequently are strengthened while those that aren’t are weakened or die out completely. Neurological studies conclude that 85% of brain growth occurs before age 5. Therefore, a child’s experiences and overall development before prior to kindergarten can determine his or her ability to develop higher cognitive functions. Said plainly, both prenatal and childhood experiences and exposure influence long-term brain development and long term learning capability. The chart below illustrates how neurological development occurs over time.
Students who experience early childhood education have been proven to not only grasp intellectual concepts better than their peers but they are also 50% less likely to need special education services, they tend to score above age level in academic skills, social skills, and motor skills, and they have significantly higher income, home ownership and educational attainment than children who had no prekindergarten.
Given that students do not begin formal schooling until age 5, they are already at a disadvantage, particularly if they lack parental guidance in early education. The lack of early education also has long term affects as low literacy levels have been linked to poverty, dependence on public assistance, unemployment and criminal behavior. Study after study has shown that these issues disproportionately affect African American students at a much higher rate than other students.
The chart below illustrates where African Americans stand in relation to other races on academic readiness when entering kindergarten.
This issue is critical enough that many state politicians have been proposing prekindergarten education programs for their states. Although this is good news for some states, it does not apply nationwide and it would be unwise for parents to await government intervention in order to ensure the educational aspirations of their children are met. Parental intervention is necessary to bridge this gap; done frequently, it may even set African American students above educational requirements.
I would never try to give the idea that overcoming these statistics will be easy. Admittedly, there are many obstacles facing the African American community as a whole. But one obstacle we can overcome is that we can be involved in our children’s education and teach them about financial management. Now more than ever before resources are readily available to parents at very low costs (and in some cases free). This site is developed strictly for the purpose of providing instruction, resources, and a community environment to parents like you. Therefore the way we overcome these damning statistics is by preparing our children in the best way possible so that they can achieve success as well as reap the benefits.
- Children whose parents focus on early childhood education score higher on standardized tests than kids who do not.
- Children involved with early education have a greater sense of confidence and learn to appreciate their level of intellect over their peers.
- Children who read early develop a love of reading and a love of learning.
- Children involved in early education are less likely to experience poverty or conduct criminal behavior.
Children are not the only ones who reap benefits from early education.
- Since children who have early education tend to also have greater social skills they are better behaved than children without early education.
- Parents reap the benefits since children who have early education are also less frustrated by school curriculum and tend to get higher grades.
- Children with early education are less likely to repeat grades which helps schools function at better rates.
- Society benefits from having educated and positive children who will soon become productive members of society.
Overall, it cannot be overstated how critical early education is to your child’s future success. If you are not able to find the proper resources on this site, I urge you to search for resources that can help provide the quality information you need.