White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Host the African American Education Summit at the University of California, Los Angeles

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The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA) will visit the Audubon Middle School in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 25, and host the African American Education Summit, a solutions based forum to improve learning and development opportunities for African American students, on Friday, June 26, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

On Thursday, David Johns, executive director of WHIEEAA, will tour the Audubon Middle School, a school that illustrates African American student achievement – over 50 percent of the students enrolled in the school’s gifted magnet program are African American. Following the tour, Johns will participate in a roundtable discussion at the school, convened by Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member, Dr. George McKenna, focused on sharing best practices and challenges of African Americans in education.

The following day, Johns will open the African American Education Summit by moderating a panel discussion, entitled “Reimagining Opportunity for Black Youth in Los Angeles.” The complete agenda for the Summit can be found online. The Summit is being held in collaboration with UCLA’s Sociology and African American Studies Departments, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and the Black Male Institute.

“The Initiative is proud of this signature event, which provides African American students with the opportunity to share their experiences and make recommendations for how caring and concerned adults can ensure students feel safe, engaged and supported—both in school and in life,” said Johns “The Summit provides us with a chance to hear form those most impacted by the decisions adults make. We’re hopeful that our efforts to highlight the importance of listening to students and to responding to their needs and recommendations inform both policy and practice.”

“The Summit is a forum to affirm and understand the experiences of black students in and across Los Angeles. In light of recent events from Baltimore to Ferguson to Charleston, it is essential that we take stock in the lessons and practices born from our students’ pursuit of educational excellence,” said Professor Marcus Anthony Hunter (author of Black Citymakers: How The Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America). “Given its role as the major public university in Los Angeles and the recent departmentalization of African American Studies, UCLA is a crucial and fruitful venue for these important discussions,” added Hunter.

Data released earlier this year show that U.S. students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before. The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 81 percent in 2012-13, the highest level in the nation’s history. Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students increased by nearly 4 percentage points from 2011 to 2013, outpacing the growth for all students in the nation, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Moreover, the data show that the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas narrowed over that time.

To ensure the economic strength of our country, students must graduate high school ready for college, careers and life, the U.S. Department of Education has invested more than $1 billion in early education; implemented strategies that improve achievement and close opportunity gaps, and awarded billions of dollars through such grant programs as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and School Improvement Grants; and expanded college access and affordability for families.

You can also follow updates on Twitter via @AfAmeducation