Group seeks to close achievement gap for California's black students

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Fortune School of Education and the National Action Network said they hope new research proves how to close the education achievement gap for black students in California.

They studied the top schools with majority black populations that are in the top half of academic performance in math and English language arts.

"And in the top 10% of all schools when you consider similar demographics. And we found that there are 16 that meet that description and 15 of those are founded or led by African-Americans themselves," said Margaret Fortune with Fortune School of Education.

Around 1,300 students from the five Sacramento-area schools that made the study's top 16 rallied at the State Capitol to send lawmakers the message that “black kids deserve great schools too.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton flew in for the National Action Network’s Western Regional Conference. There, leaders of the achieving schools will share best practices among themselves and figure out how to bring those ideas to scale statewide.

"The achievement gap is what leads to continuing the economic and racial and criminal justice gap," Sharpton said.

The reverend spoke exclusively to FOX40 on Wednesday.

"Let's start at the root,” Sharpton said. “You don't take care of a tree once it is grown, you take care of a tree at the root. Because if the root is strong, then the tree and all of its branches will be strong.”

For Nylah DuBose, smaller class sizes at a black-led charter school and being truly seen helped an already good student do even better.

"My principal knows my name. When I went to Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School, she did not know my name. She only knew me as the kid who didn't get in trouble," DuBose said.

She is now on pace to earn her associates of science degree and high school diploma at the same time.

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