Giving Compass’ Take:
• Meredith Kolodner discusses how Avolles Parish, with a predominantly black student population, combats declining graduation rates and dwindling funding.
• How can holistic approaches to student life at home and at school make an impact in your community?
• Read about the disadvantages black students face.
Avoyelles Parish has one of the lowest percentages in the country of African American adults with a high school diploma — 61 percent. The economic futures of African Americans without a high school diploma are bleak. Black 25- to 34-year-olds on average earn about $21,000 annually compared to about $29,000 for whites.
In Avoyelles, these trends have become deeply entrenched. In 2012, 57 percent of ”minority” students (almost all African American) graduated from Avoyelles Parish high schools, lower than the percentage of adults with a diploma. By 2018, that number had increased to 75 percent, but was still far below the white graduation rate of 90 percent.
Stanley Celestine Jr. is on the school board and said he’s seen improvement but wants the district to better support students who are struggling with difficult issues in their lives and at home, which can be exacerbated by the impact of poverty.
“I really think it means doing whatever it takes, if it means deploying more financial resources, sending our teachers to meaningful professional development that’s going to allow them to be responsive to some of the traumas that our students undergo,” said Celestine, adding that there are schools that would benefit greatly from having an in-house counselor.
He said that many of the new school board members (seven of the nine are new this year) agree that policies that better address students’ social and emotional needs can serve as an alternative to suspensions and expulsions.
All of the parish’s education issues are exacerbated by a low level of funding. The parish was 65th among 69 parishes in spending per student last year, at $9,727 annually. The national average was $12,756. African Americans in parishes that spend the most per pupil — up to $6,400 more than Avoyelles — tend to graduate at higher rates.
Read the full article about black students combatting poverty and dwindling school funding by Meredith Kolodner at The Hechinger Report.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for North America, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and North America.
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