How to Fix the Education Divide

Racial gap is 'last great civil-rights battle': Klein and Sharpton
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 12, 2009 12:43 PM CST
Strong American Schools co-chairs Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, attend a news conference in Washington, Wednesday, June 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – America is facing its “last great civil-rights battle”: the racial education gap, write Joel I Klein and Al Sharpton in a Wall Street Journal. “Today the average 12th-grade black or Hispanic student has the reading, writing, and math skills of an eighth-grade white student,” they note. But bolstered by Barack Obama, the tenets of Klein and Sharpton’s education initiative can point us in the right direction.

Klein, New York’s education chancellor, and Sharpton founded the nonpartisan Education Equality Project last year. Its mission: to assess policy in terms of children’s advancement, not adults’ interests. Obama can help in two ways: first, push a federal student achievement standards—“our current state-by-state approach has spawned a race to the bottom.” Second, focus education funding on putting great teachers in troubled urban schools—"To close the achievement gap, start with a three-word solution: Teachers, teachers, teachers."