This article is based on the NAACP report, Unlocking Opportunity For African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity. One premise that has held true since the 1960’s, is that the quality of teaching usurps all other factors in a child’s life. “One growing body of research shows that student achievement is more heavily influenced by teacher quality than by students’ race, class, prior academic record, or a school a student attends. This is especially true for students from low-income families and African American students. The benefits associated with being taught by good teachers are cumulative.”
The report, Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity, outlines what are sometimes insurmountable barriers to staying in school and how poor educational outcomes result in limited job opportunities, lower lifetime earnings, and increased risk of economic insecurity for African American women. In 2013, 43 percent of African American women without a high school diploma were living in poverty, compared to nine percent of African American women with at least a bachelor’s degree. The report examines roadblocks faced by both African American girls and boys—such as under-resourced schools—and emphasizes those that have a distinct impact on African American girls due to the intersection of gender and race stereotypes. These barriers include lack of access to college-and career-preparatory curricula in schools; limited access to athletics and other extracurricular activities; disproportionate and overly punitive disciplinary practices that exclude them from school for minor and subjective infractions, such as dress code violations and wearing natural hairstyles; discrimination against pregnant and parenting students; and pervasive sexual harassment and violence.
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