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Minorities Unprepared For Global Competition

The U.S. is failing its minorities by not adequately preparing them for the global market, a Harvard report shows.

education strategies for minority schools, universities, and collegesA new report by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance suggests that African American and Latino students are not being adequately prepared to compete in the global economy, writes Casey Gane-McCalla at

The report, titled ‘Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete’ shows poor results particularly in reading and math within the demographic. According to the report, only 11% of African Americans and 15% of Hispanics are math proficient, and only 13% of African Americans and just 4% of Hispanics are proficient in reading.

For the country as a whole, only 32% are proficient in math and only 31% are proficient in reading, Gane-McCalla writes.

When broken down by racial backgrounds, African-Americans and Latinos fared the worst in the report, writes Danielle Wright at


"Given the disparate performance among students from various cultural backgrounds, it may be worth inquiring as to whether differences between the United States and other countries are attributable to the substantial minority population within the U.S.," the study says.


The report suggests that the U.S. could benefit from a larger increase in its GDP growth if it was to invest further in math proficiency in its students. They estimate that the U.S. could benefit from up to a trillion dollars in income growth if the percentage increases are calculated as national income projections over 80 years.

But we must come a long way to achieve this. The report does nothing to instil confidence in the idea that we are making gains in enhancing our young minority students’ study ability. Last November The New York Times reported that only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys were proficient in reading. This month’s report by Harvard shows only a 1 percent increase on this.

“There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”

Those include “conversations about early childhood parenting practices,” Dr. Ferguson said. “The activities that parents conduct with their 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. How much we talk to them, the ways we talk to them, the ways we enforce discipline, the ways we encourage them to think and develop a sense of autonomy.”

The Department of Education have not commented on the results of this month’s report.

The Program on Education Policy and Governance was established in 1996 at Harvard University’s Government Department. It is a significant contributor to the systematic analysis of education policy and governing arrangements.




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