New data on attendance, suspension rates and scores of Oakland’s African American males

The Oakland school district has released some new data on the achievement of its black male students as part of its African American male achievement initiative, led by Chris Chatmon. (Note: The California Department of Education reports test scores by race and by gender, but not race and gender.)

  • About 27 percent of Oakland’s black males showed proficiency in English language arts in 2010, compared to 31 percent of all black students, 80 percent of white males and the districtwide average of 41 percent.
  • About 30 percent tested proficient in math, about the same as the overall proficiency rate for all African American students, but lower than the average for white males (77 percent) and the district average (44 percent).
  • One in every five of the district’s black male students missed more than 18 days of school last year, making them chronically truant. The district’s overall absenteeism rate is also a concern, with 12 percent of students missing that many days.
  • The suspension rate for black males is 18 percent, compared to 3 percent for white males and 8 percent overall.

Here is a copy of the full presentation. The stats are on slides 12-20.

If you want to do something about those statistics, the next meeting of the African American Male Achievement task force is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 on the Castlemont high school campus. Judging from the turnout at the last task force meeting, held at McClymonds, there is a great deal of interest in this initiative.

Calendar item: The Second Annual Dr. Carter G. Woodson Black History Bowl is Saturday, Feb. 26 at Frick Middle School, 2845 64th Avenue. It’s a trivia competition with elementary, middle and high school divisions, co-sponsored by OUSD, Ile Omode, 100 Black Men,¬† Kulture Freedom and Mo’ Better Food.

The Kulture Freedom website says the entrance fee is $250 per team (five kids and a coach) to cover¬† “event registration, a study guide & 6 games, 6 t-shirts, programs, certificates and awards.”

That sounds a bit steep, and I’ve emailed the founder to find out if there are any fee waivers for low-income students. Maybe people are getting sponsorships or scholarships. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jesse James

    Is this the only data released? Where is this information? Thanks!

  • Katy Murphy

    This is what’s come out so far, in a presentation to the African American Male Achievement task force. More is coming, I’m told, but I don’t know when.

    If I can’t find a link to the presentation on the district’s website, I’ll post a PDF of the whole presentation.

  • Katy Murphy

    You’re in business, Jesse James. I’ve uploaded the full presentation to the blog post, right below the bullet points.

  • Jesse James

    I am really interested in the statistics!

  • Nextset

    This is only the beginning of a host of stats delineating the “difference”. And orthodox liberal dogma wants us to insist that biology has nothing to do with any of it.

    As the subjects age, the differences in the group norms and averages gets into such areas as average age of onset of puberty, coitus, first child born, number of children, criminality, antisociality, diabetes, BMI, height and weight averages, credit scores, food preferences, disease susceptibility, Group IQ averages and on and on.

    People are not created equal. People are different. And if you really want to mess a group over, continue to treat them like someone else.

    We once had all black schools that produced products that were able to make it in the world – while striving for more. Now we have all black schools that produce products that are roadkill unable to compete with 3rd world immigrants to the USA. So what is it (policy wise) that has changed in black education from 1960 to the present? Whatever that is needs to be reversed.

    And in the face of all these stats we trumpet grade schools as having closed “the gap” – and people actually lap it up. Right… (as Bill Cosby would say) How dumb do the educrats believe people are?

    Black students have different needs than the other ethnics – hispanics, jews, whites, asians. The first requirement in serving the different constituencies is to acknowledge that they have distinct needs (ie stop force feeding college prep on CA blacks who don’t want it).

  • gee yu

    hey nextset

    the difference with the schools then and now is that we had black teachers in our schools, I went to ousd schools in the 60’s and they produced students like HODGE,RILEY et al. we hired local teachers from the local colleges who had roots in the community. not $650,000.00 transplants that just come for their college loans to be paid off and then leave so they can go on to get their higher degrees. I visited some teacher trainings on wed. and all that was discussed was data. I watched as students who needed to talked to their teachers were turned away because the data had priority. In the 60’s you could aways find your teachers in the class after school, and now?

  • harlemmoon

    While these stats are not surprising, they are alarming. It suggests an absolute failure on the part of the district – and the community.
    That it’s being discussed is a great start. But action – a real, meaningful, long-term response – must follow. Quickly. Lest we lose another generation of young black men to prison, drugs, gangs or an early demise.

  • AC Mom

    Does this data include students that are identified as mixed race (with one parent of African descent)?

  • harlemmoon

    AC MOM,

    What would that stat suggest? That only half of the kid is a failure?
    In American society, they’d be identified as black – whether they wanted to or not. Exhibit A: Obama

  • AC Mom


    Don’t pretend to know why I ask for the data, ok? The stat doesn’t suggest anything because we haven’t seen it yet. I was not attempting to label any child as half of failure; those are your words not mine. I am a mother of a mixed race child, and I would like to know what the educational outcomes are for children that identify as mixed race. Can someone with knowledge of how the data was compiled state whether or not the data is or is it not aggregated into the AA data if the child has a AA parent?

  • Katy Murphy

    I’m pretty sure it would depend on how the family has identified the child during registration. I’d be surprised if the above stats included children whose parents checked the mixed-race/declined-to-state box (which, unless it’s recently changed, is an odd lumping of two distinct classifications).

    Does the district even have that level of data on mixed race kids? If so, I haven’t been able to find it.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Nextset, I’ve studied alongside the sociobiologist BS professors. Genetics and Biology (not the same thing) do matter. The problem is the generalizations made based on dominant traits for melanin. My understanding is there is far more differentiation within our racial coding than between. Further, there is little to suggest that any group is genetically limited in the way you insinuate.

    Genetics matter, it seems that conditions matter more. Studies on twins raised in different environments suggest this. These studies don’t even take into account the biological factors that effect an embryo before conception and birth which are not genetic at their root (e.g. parental poverty, eating habits, smoking, prenatal care, stress, on and on).

    No problem talking genetics, but just because you have a genetics hammer, it doesn’t make everything a nail.

  • Nextset

    TruthHurts: I have had college classes involving genetics and statistics. I am not a biologist. I am satisfied that there is enough study to believe that the differences (to a great extent) are not nurture, they are nature. Especially when we deal with the medical and physical differences which are significant. Turning to behavioral and cognitive differences – biology appears to be destiny at least in the group norms and averages. It is what it is. There is enough mixed marriages going on to keep things really interesting – but when you compare 10,000 Blacks and 10,000 German Jews (or any other two distinct ethnics) and compare behavioral norms and averages you just can’t keep arguing the differences are not manifestations of biology as opposed to only social conditions. Not with a straight face, anyway. Some argue social behavior is a construct of biology.

    This is only at issue because the urban school districts such as OUSD and LAUSD are devoid of Whites and Jews who by and large who are over in Moraga (see the article in today’s SF Chronicle) and elsewhere having a really different high school experience with really nice technology and equipment. OUSD can’t possibly field such programs because the equipment would be stolen and smashed at once – OUSD doesn’t have (average) “students” like Moraga does. Simply put they collectively are less interested in study (and uninterested in the study subjects done at Moraga and similar places). They (OUSD students) have other interests. I say that’s biology as well as anything else.

    Why does this racial debate come into play here on a policy blog about OUSD? because OUSD is a largely black and mexican district (admit it!). If OUSD doesn’t get it’s act together it might see a 50% drop rate and a skyrocketing illiteracy rate. Like it has (Too late!). These rates are here now and were not pre “Great Society” because back then relevant education and training (like industrial/vocational) was provided the lower class students along with those fresh hot cinnamon rolls that together kept the students happy and in school. They didn’t all go to college but basic literacy was far better and the students had better placement rates in industry & military.

    OUSD and it’s Educrats need to finally get it – that for the Black student population and now the about to become majority Mexican student population, college is neither desired not practical upon high school graduation (if you even graduate). That doesn’t mean later in life some additional training won’t occur.

    We require OUSD and similar urban prole school districts in addition to providing college prep for the fragment of students that are appropriate, to provide industrial, vocational & practical training for the majority of the student body that need skills only for industry and perhaps military application upon turning 18 (by this I include the 50% or whatever # of black students OUSD runs off with it’s academic-centric agenda). Those industrial skills better be taught early and often because is you are going to make your living with your hands and back you’d better start early. If that training is not provided these people will suffer quickly and visibly.

    Referring to the latest scandal at OUSD, perhaps the students wouldn’t be orally copulating in class if the classes were conducted more in line with what I’m saying. A statewide educational program suitable “for all” – 2nd grade or 10th grade – isn’t going to adequately serve OUSD kids. We need to do what works for our students specifically, sorted by track.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have college prep classes for blacks. I am saying we should not force college prep classes on black/hispanic students who don’t want it because we are bound and determined to prove they are the same as whites (who have fled the district for the most part). College prep at OUSD should be by application or individual transfer. OUSD high schoolers would be well served by vocational testing & counseling, a bookkeeping or medical assisting certificate program or any number of other occupational programs.

    The black attendance and suspension rates cited above are a valid expression on what those students and their families think of the OUSD educational program. They have a right to their collective opinion and they have a right to express that opinion by refusing to come to class and by acting out in ways they know gets them suspended. OUSD has no right to expect anything different unless and until it changes it’s educational program to offer classes of perceived value – not Algebra and the like (business math is what prole math classes might be called – it can have algebra in it).

  • Football Watcher

    I didn’t want to post….. Im over here biting my lips as I read responses to the data from mainly outsiders who don’t have a clue to what is going on in OUSD for African American boys.

    I taught in OUSD at the high school level for the past 11 years. I am an African American Male, who was a product of OUSD and went on to get a B.A. and M.A. in education…. (I say this so you can rest assure that my comments are mere conjecture)

    OUSD does not know how to educate Black Boys! There I said it.

    Ive had this conversation with my ex principal on more than one occasion and was dismissed and dam near put out his office….. “If African American Boys are 15% of the schools population, they should by 15% of the total suspensions.” ( Ok maybe even 25 %) but at my former school they were 87% of the suspension rate! That is just utterly ridiculous. Again this just points to my thesis, that OUSD has no clue how to educate these black boys.

    How do you fix it…. its not as hard as you think. Put more African American Men in the classroom as teachers! In my 11 years I almost never had any problem with AA boys. I was an example of what they could be if they put their minds to it. We would have conversations at lunch and in between classes where I asked real questions like, what do you want to do after you graduate (and not the song and dance about UC and A-G requirements) I told them about different unions that would hire men with HS diplomas, tacked about PG&E, and Longshoreman positions, many had no idea that being a Garbage Man would make you part of the middle class! They are put on a track at OUSD that leads them to failure.

    More black teachers, office workers and principals…. not just the food service and janitors. When they see people who look like them, from where they are from, went through the same struggles and issues, they believe that they can do it! People who care about “educating” them and not about the test scores, people who know them and not as just a student, but go to their sporting games, or activities out side of school. People who will go to there church and sit net to their grandmother, or who lives in the community and shoes them that its not about the check (how little it is! lol) but about something bigger.

    Fact that in my years a a OUSD teacher more black students attended my class then any other class in the whole school….. I wonder why that was? don’t tell it was because i didn’t teach the standard, because my students typically tested the highest in the subject matter filed in the school and close in the district…… There is something about a shared experience that is worth more than any Teach or America resume…… The kids knew that I actually cared for them…… is that so foreign?

    One teacher who was my colleague for years would repeatedly suspend, put out, give detentions to black males in his class….. he would say things that were close to the line in staff meeting about his struggles with AA boys. I would sit back and ask myself how in a class of 35 students and 13 are black, and 6 are black boys of which only 3 would show up to you class because of how you treat them, do you constantly, put out, referral, detention, and try to suspend those 3? Crazy!

    Its a intimidation thing, The teacher was scared, and did not know how to handle this situation, and instead of “educating” the student he threw them out. Ridiculous!

    Sorry for the rant, but I know why African American boys fail in OUSD, and the bureaucracy that doesn’t allow for thing to change!

  • Catherine

    Matches my student stats exactly. Hispanic and Latino students miss much of December and the first half of January.

    Very frustrating – have to go. More later.

  • Works at Oakland School

    In # 13 Nextset has a point – one he and others often make – that the idea of forcing kids who couldn’t care less about analyzing a novel or learning algebra or biology is a waste of time. Just imagine taking two of the high schools and teaching auto mechanics, carpentry, solar energy installation, electrician training and whatever else one needs to work in construction,computer technician, etc, all the training that would insure that these kids have a skill that will enable then to support not only them but a family. I watch teachers trying to teach analogies and how to analyze a book – a hopeless cause when about 10% have actually done the reading. I see a lack of trying to think for oneself – it is much easier to see what the teacher writes and then write it down – meanwhile the kid is texting on her phone. They don’t feel it has any relevance to their lives so why bother. There is not that sense of getting an education for the sake of being an educated person. And yes, it is mainly the black but also the hispanic kids, both boys and girls, who are messing around in class. Tach them something that will give them a job after high school – they aren’t going to make it to a 4-year college anyway and you might find them going to school.

  • Catherine

    Works at Oakland School – I agree with you. As a teacher, however, I would be pigeonholed as a teacher who tracks students. Tracking is evil, ask any teaching credential program; ask the district; ask the former mayor’s office; or ask the school board.

    Because of our horrid (I agree) history of tracking students of color into blue color and and lower level classes that ONLY teaches students to fill out aid forms or job applications. Once we allow for tracking that allows for flexibility – moving from one track to another when students show aptitude or achieve scores needed, then tracking will not be seen as evil. However, if I did not walk in my classroom and look at EVERY student – those that show up every day with their homework complete and those that show up some or most days with or without homework – as though each and every one were capable and willing to learn top grades and top test scores, I am seen as not doing my job and not holding each student to “the same high standards.”

    I personally believe that every student I have can learn the same grade level material at the proficient level. However, I have some gifted students and some highly motivated students that could work far beyond anything we teach at our middle school if they were given the opportunity to do so. Likewise, i have students who drink and get high on the same block of our school, who show up about 50% of the time and who brag about what they have stole and who they had sex with during my class. I work to teach them, they work to disrupt the other students in the class and me. If I ignore them, or discount what they have to say, I am tracking.

    Some days I can’t win for losing.

  • Nextset

    Catherine: It was never “horrid” to track typical black students into blue collar jobs and lower level classes. They should be so lucky. Now we track them into prison and early graves.

    There are black students that are in school interested in a particular goal that requires college or are interested in college. And when I say “interested” I don’t mean wanna-be or “dreaming” about it like some people like to gush, I mean making normal progress towards college. In other words, on college track. Yes, there are black students who do this. But they are a minority of all the black students and I don’t mind saying it. It is what it is.

    What we have done is destroy black self sufficiency by imposing college prep on those unsuitable for it and in the process running them completely out of secondary school and out of the blue collar and service jobs they could have had (which are then scooped up by foreigners).

    Tracking is not a bad thing, it’s the thing that keeps people from going off the rails and failing to safely realize the minimum level of occupation and income they should have been able to reach. You tell them they can change their targets when they are ready to change their ways to get a higher target. But until then they’d better get cracking at what they can safely manage. That is no disservice to anyone of any race or sex.

    And I also don’t mind using such assessment tools as IQ tests and vocational aptitude tests to help placement as well as offerring the student an upgrade in placement as long as they are ready willing and able to meet the requirements of a higher placement (ie show up, do the homework, get reasonable grades, not kill the teacher, whatever..)

    OUSD could iron things out and reclaim it’s academic place from the charters if they’d designate schools as either academic or vocational and mercilessly flunked out anyone in the academic classes who didn’t perform as required (including deportment). It’s easy to do, time pressure tests on a grade curve… Students would practically sort themselves.

    This was already done at the Oakland Tech/UC Berkeley demonstration Summer School Program. It was integrated but not by much. There were no behavior problems that I remember, no attendance problems either because you were disenrolled if you missed more classes than allowed regardless of reason.

    Speaking of which I’m hearing a lot of chatter about the Jr Colleges toughening up considerably. Students are terrified at jury duty about missing any time from Jr. College, saying they’ll be disenrolled if they miss class and as a result lose everything (the place and the funding, etc.).

  • Nextset

    Intyeresting article this morning on VDare about the politics involved in fixing nature with nurture:


  • Cadnerd

    Football Watcher’s points seem reasonable to me.

    The only thing that makes me uneasy is that admitting that black men are required to teach black boys leads to segregation (unless we are going to tranform our teaching core into all black men – who could presumably also successfully teach non-black boys). I am not sure there is a practical solution in this observation. I did recently hear the statistic that the single most effective “radical change” that can be made to boost achievement in schools was separating the sexes – particularly in the classroom. It seems to work to the advantage of boys and girls regardless of other demographics… That surprised me.

  • Nextset

    Cadnerd: It takes men to get control of boys. The race is optional. The US Army has been using white men to train black boys for over a century. In the more recent decades the reverse has worked also. It works for them, it’ll work for OUSD.

    If women try to raise and control boys you have all kinds of problems including the rogue elephant problem. I’m not saying it can never work on occasion, but we know it does not work as a rule.

    As far as what’s required to get control of adolescent girls, I’d love to hear what the other readers think. I’ve been told by male and female teachers that the girls are even more difficult to bring back into control when they are rotten. And my experience that a tough female teacher can do it with less difficulty than a man.

  • Dr. Neeley, Sociologist

    Dear Katy Murphy:

    Thank you for your coverage.

    The shockingly low English & Math proficiency scores among black males, in particular, and black students, more specifically, mirrors the violence of a city whose racial bias and ingrained policy response reflect a decadence of leadership as well as a denial of true genetic superiority. The solution to such abomination can be found in the return to traditional life-giving values that recognize and respect the rights of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    We must recognize that an Almighty Deity created this Universe and everything therein, both animate and inanimate and that we enjoy life on Earth precisely to acknowledge and pay reverence to HIM.

    In Trust,
    Beverly Evon Neeley, Sociologist/Co-Owner
    Image of the Mind, Inc.
    sTudent Instruction Empower
    Dallas, Texas

  • On the Fence


    Say what? I understood your last paragraph, but can you please elaborate on, “…mirrors the violence of a city whose racial bias and ingrained policy response reflect a decadence of leadership as well as a denial of true genetic superiority.”? What do you mean?

  • J.R.

    I think I grasped a small piece of #22, anyone(from morons to drug abusers) can reproduce, but not everyone knows how to parent. This is reflected in the societal results that we see in front of our eyes. Free and subsidized housing,money,food and health care have resulted in a flood of less than mediocrity with not much in the way of values.