When you think of a crisis, you probably think of a natural disaster, active shooter or some other sudden event. The truth is, most crises are not sudden. The majority have been smoldering for some time and finally erupt. Such is the case for the achievement gap in education. It’s now become a full blown crisis. That’s why the Study of African American Life and History has deemed “The Crisis in Black Education” the national theme for Black History Month this year.
Experts have studied the issue. It’s been the topic of numerous scholarly articles, and there have been a number of initiatives aimed at closing the achievement gap. There are pockets of success around the country, but to date, there’s no national fix for this challenge.
Despite the challenge, African-American families are big believers in education. They always have been. They know education is the key to achieving the American dream, and they want to make sure their children have the opportunity to live their dreams.
The role of KCTCS is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Community colleges were founded on the concept of social justice and providing all Americans an affordable and accessible education. Over the years, under-represented populations have enjoyed increased access to postsecondary education, largely through the doors of community and technical colleges.
Does that mean we have all the answers? Obviously not. What it does mean, is that we are committed to doing everything we can to build upon historic as well as current efforts to satisfy a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge. Closing the achievement gap is at the top of our priority list. This begins with bringing more people of color through our doors, but that’s just the first step. We also must make sure these students leave us with a credential that allows them to have a career that pays family-sustaining wages.
This is so important to us that we’ve made it part of our six-year strategic plan. We know the best way to empower people is through education, and that a good job is the first step to economic prosperity.
Acting to ensure the benefits of education are available to African-American students is an important opportunity facing us right now. It deserves our focus until it is resolved.