President Barack Obama signs the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Order in the Oval Office, July 26, 2012. Standing behind the President, from left, are: Patricia Coulter, CEO National Urban League of Philadelphia; Rep. Danny Davis, D- Ill.; Reverend Al Sharpton; Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP; Ingrid Saunders- Jones, Chair of the National Council of Negro Women; Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.; Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools; and Michael Lomax, President of the United Negro College Fund. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
On July 26, 2012, President Barack H. Obama of the United States of America launched a new White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to help accelerate national efforts to support African American students. Improving educational opportunities for all students in the U.S. is critical to ensuring increased college completion and employment rates to strengthen the nation's economy.
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, to restore the country to its role as the global leader in education, to strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy
Over the course of America's history, African American men and women have strengthened our Nation, including by leading reforms, overcoming obstacles, and breaking down barriers. In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America's educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation, and many African American children who attended the substandard segregated schools of the 1950s have grown up to see their children attend integrated elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
However, substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America's educational system. African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education. African American student achievement not only lags behind that of their domestic peers by an average of two grade levels, but also behind students in almost every other developed nation. Over a third of African American students do not graduate from high school on time with a regular high school diploma, and only four percent of African American high school graduates interested in college are college-ready across a range of subjects. An even greater number of African American males do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, and African American males also experience disparate rates of incarceration.
Significantly improving the educational outcomes of African Americans will provide substantial benefits for our country by, among other things, increasing college completion rates, productivity, employment rates, and the number of African American teachers. Enhanced educational outcomes lead to more productive careers, improved economic opportunity, and greater social well-being for all Americans. Complementing the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in preparing generations of African American students for successful careers, and the work of my Administration's separate White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, this new Initiative's focus on improving all the sequential levels of education will produce a more effective educational continuum for all African American students.
To reach the ambitious education goals we have set for our Nation, as well as to ensure equality of access and opportunity for all, we must provide the support that will enable African American students to improve their level of educational achievement through rigorous and well-rounded academic and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and a lifetime of learning.
Sec. 2. White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans