Bethune-Cookman Looks to Improve Success Among Minority Students

4956346Statistics show minority students have a harder time succeeding in classrooms. They graduate at a lower rate, fare worse in reading and math and are more likely to be suspended or expelled.

Bethune-Cookman University hopes to do something to help that.

“We know that all students are not finding success at the same rate. What those barriers are, are debatable,” said Willis Walter, B-CU’s dean of education. “But what is clear is that, depending on your area code or zip code, it’s more difficult for you to find the same level of success as some in other areas.”

Walter is calling on superintendents, educators, families and government agencies throughout Florida to come together to seek solutions.

The school is hosting its inaugural educational justice conference in Orlando Sunday through Tuesday. The conference, themed “Connecting with the Diverse and Underrepresented Youth of Today”, aims to empower K-12 educational leaders and teachers by providing rich dialogue and presentations on critical issues affecting minority students.

“It’s time to have a frank discussion,” Walter said. “We are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that every student has the same level of academic success.”

In Florida, the graduation rate for white students was 82 percent in 2014. That same year, the rate for black students was 65 percent and 75 percent for Hispanic students.

B-CU hosted a similar event in February led by the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which was created by the Legislature in 2006 to study conditions affecting black men and boys, including school performance.

At that conference, several superintendents, including Jacob Oliva of Flagler County, spoke about what their school districts are doing to close the achievement gap in classrooms.

The Flagler County school district was under fire in 2012 when the Southern Poverty Law Center filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights against the school district, saying that black students were suspended and expelled at a rate far higher than white students. Read Full via News Journal