Improving Black Education by Executive Order

President Obama will announce to the Urban League a new initiative aimed at black achievement.

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(The Root) — In an action certainly aimed at energizing his Democratic base, President Obama will announce today that he is signing an executive order specifically intended to improve educational opportunities for African-American students.

The president will announce the order Wednesday evening at the National Urban League Conference in New Orleans. (Watch the live webcast at 7:30 p.m. EDT/6:30 p.m. CDT.)

According to a senior administration official, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will be a part of the Department of Education and will work with the president and Cabinet-level agencies “to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African-American students’ achievement in school and college.” It will also build a network of people, grassroots organizations and communities to share those practices.

In addition, the executive order creates a presidential commission on educational advancement for African-American students, with commission members advising the president and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on broad-stroke strategies meant to enhance educational opportunities for black Americans of all ages.

A separate interagency working group will engage Cabinet agencies and senior officials at the White House in building programs “aimed at advancing outcomes for African Americans in early-childhood education; elementary, secondary and postsecondary education; career and technical education; and adult education,” the administration official said.

“From allowing states to opt out of key No Child Left Behind provisions, introducing Race to the Top and releasing the Civil Rights Data Collection Report on educational disparities, President Obama continues to demonstrate the will to improve equity in education and access to college,” remarked Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., a Howard University professor who is also contributing education editor for The Root.

“Hopefully, during his remarks at the NUL conference, President Obama will specifically address the problems in public education that were delineated in the Civil Rights Data Report [pdf]. Specifically, any federal program to improve educational opportunities for black students should address disproportionate suspensions and ‘push out’ of black pupils, resource equity and the absence of college-preparatory courses at public schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students.”