The children of South Los Angeles are failing tragically, and what are we doing about it? Has the village turned its back on our children? At the Los Angeles Urban League, we are very concerned about what is happening to the youth in our community. There is a serious achievement gap that is affecting the academic success of our children. Do you know that:
- There's a huge achievement gap in California. 70 percent of African American third graders are not proficient in math, and 60 percent are not proficient in language arts.
- 2. Only five percent of African American children in California are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.
- 3. By the time low-income children reach four years of age, many are already two to three years behind their higher income peers.
- 4. Children who do not learn to read by the end of the 3rd grade, cannot "read to learn" in 4th grade and beyond.
- 5. States determine how many prison beds they will need ten years in the future based on third grade test scores.
Sadly, all of the above statements are true. Unfortunately, the statistics for our young African American male students are even worse. We do know that children who participate in high-quality early education develop better language and school readiness skills and have fewer behavioral problems in school. High quality early childhood programs also yield substantial long-term benefits, including higher graduation rates, fewer school dropouts, less need for special education, and less crime.
The time has now come that we as a community/village, take responsibility for our children, and we can't wait until they get to high school. We have to start very early on. Systemic and sustainable change in student achievement requires a strong focus on early education. At the Los Angeles Urban League, we are trying to change the face of education in our community by intervening with innovative initiatives.
These are just a few initiatives that the Urban League wants to establish to help our children succeed in school, but we can't do it by ourselves. We can no longer wait on politicians and policy makers to solve the educational issues facing our community. We, as a community, have to take responsibility for what happens to our children. The village needs to reassemble and take leadership. If we don't, the future of our children is bleak. We can't afford to lose another generation to extreme dropout rates, unemployment, violence, crime and the prison system.
We need strong partners to help us help our children. Everyone can partner in this effort. It doesn't matter how much money you have, whether you own a business, or where you live. All you need is a strong willingness to help. Every single person in our community has a role in the village. If the children in our community matter to you; if the teachers in our community matter to you; if the parents in our community matter to you; and if our community matters to you, then please help us save our children.
Join the Los Angeles Urban League and give back on #GivingTuesday Dec. 3, 2013 by supporting their iMatter2 Campaign: http://givingtuesday.org/partner/los-angeles-urban-league/.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in celebration of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year (2013) on December 3. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. We'll feature at least one post from a #GivingTuesday partner every weekday in November. To see all the posts in the series, click here; follow the conversation via #GivingTuesday and learn more here.
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