In the midst of a gloomy economic and labor market outlook for black men, the transportation sector represents a unique leveraging opportunity and should be expanded. A recent congressional briefing hosted by the Economic Policy Institute, Transporting Black Men to Good Jobs: Transportation Infrastructure, Transportation Jobs, and Public Transit addressed this timely and relevant topic aligned with CLASP's Youth Policy agenda. Questions included: What is the potential of the transportation sector to deliver young men to futures of economic promise? How can industry sectors provide good jobs, good wages, and opportunity for advancement? What is the role that community must play in assembling the systems, funding, and resources to create pathways for young men? And what is the federal role in building community capacity? Read CLASP commentary here>>>
Sequestration is a quintessential "inside the Beltway" term with huge potential to affect people who live far beyond the Beltway - and inside it, as well. Here is a primer from CLASP describing what sequestration is and what it means.
What is sequestration? - Sequestration represents automatic, across-the-board spending cuts to the federal budget, totaling approximately $110 billion a year that will go into effect January 2013. Sequestration was a part of the Budget, signed into law in August 2011 by the Obama Administration and negotiated by both sides of the aisle in Congress. The Budget Control Act calls for $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over the next decade, divided equally between defense and "non-defense discretionary" programs -the term used to refer to spending on a wide range of domestic programs including education, health, human services, and labor. The deal was struck to end the 2011 debt ceiling showdown and included budget cuts so harsh that it would compel policy leaders to develop comprehensive approaches to address the nation's long-term fiscal health.
No deal in sight - With so much preoccupation with the upcoming elections and the failed efforts of the bi-partisan "supercommittee" - these cuts seem imminent.
What federal programs will be impacted? - Discretionary programs that are subject to the annual Congressional appropriations process would experience automatic cuts under the sequester - impacting programs from education to justice, such as the community services block grant, job training programs, and federal work study. Mandatory programs -- those entitlement programs not subject to annual appropriations, including Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Social Security, TANF, SNAP (or food stamps), and the Child Nutrition programs -- are generally exempt from sequestration.
Who will feel these cuts if congress fails to take action?
These are just some of the consequences if Congress doesn't act. For additional, state-specific information on how these cuts will impact children and families' access to programs, read Senator Harkin's report Under Threat.
Read More CLASP statements on sequestration:
The Supreme Court Hears the High Profile Fisher Case that Will Test Affirmative Action in Higher Education
Last week, the Supreme Court heard the high profile Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (UT) case that will have major implications not just on racial preferences in admissions to public colleges and universities but also on the legacy of affirmative action. The challenge was brought by a white student, Fisher, who claims she was denied admission to UT due to an admissions policy that considers race.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights notes that this marks the first federal appellate challenge to the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which affirmed the University of Michigan's law school's affirmative action program and held diversity is a compelling interest for public universities and that race can be used as a factor in admissions. In August, more than 50 briefs were filed in support of diversity and the University of Texas at Austin's (UT) admissions policy. This summer, CLASP joined the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys and other black male achievement initiatives in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the admissions procedures of the University of Texas. Led by the Kirwan Institute, a national coalition of black male achievement initiatives (BMI) filed an amicus brief advocating that the admissions procedures of the University of Texas at Austin be upheld. UT's admission procedures allow officials to consider race along with other factors in ensuring the selection of a diverse class.
In particular, the BMI brief notes that studies of college diversity seldom consider information about race and gender discretely and, therefore, urges the Supreme Court to examine the low numbers of African American males currently enrolled at selective colleges and universities. The BMI coalition argues that black males are "especially vulnerable to exclusion from postsecondary educational opportunities without every available constitutional tool to include them". The coalition states further that only "1.79% of the full-time students enrolled in UT's 2009 fall entering class were black males (129 out of 7,199)." Read more>>>
The President recently issued an Executive Order to establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, consisting of a Presidential Advisory Commission and Federal Interagency Working Group to Enhance Educational Outcomes for African American Students. Housed within the U.S. Department of Education, the Initiative is charged with working across federal agencies to identify best practices that will improve educational outcomes for African Americans at all age levels, from early care and education to the successful completion of post-secondary credentials. To support this effort, the Department of Education will develop a national network of partners -- business and philanthropic leaders, practitioners and educators, and non-profits -- to share and implement best practices as well as to support the overall objective outlined in the order. This objective is to ensure African American students "receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers."
CLASP applauds the Administration for its continued commitment to strengthening education for all Americans and for its much-needed investments in a range of polices and strategies that prepare students for school, provide academic and social supports to keep students connected to school, and promote lifelong learning. In particular, CLASP is supportive of the Administration's recognition that many of the nation's children and youth, specifically African Americans, do not begin at the same starting point. African American students face a variety of hurdles throughout their educational career which place their achievement at risk:
CLASP has long advocated for comprehensive, community-wide, cross-system approaches to solve some of the nation's most pressing issues, and we support similar efforts that are also underway focused on Disconnected Youth. We support the role of federal policy to help local communities in developing a continuum of community support for its children and youth, and to facilitate the ability of communities to connect resources, expertise, and services of all state and local youth-serving systems. Strong and viable partnerships with state and local education agencies are paramount. Federal policy should be targeted to support this integration of service delivery in high-poverty communities while also being flexible enough to spur innovation in the implementation of education approaches. And of great significance, these efforts must be provided with funding that is commensurate to the needs of high poverty communities and of African American students.
There is a lot that we already know about what works to improve educational outcomes for African Americans. In 2010, CLASP in collaboration with the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys released a document entitled We Dream A World that outlined many of the policy reforms at the federal, state, and local level that would foster African American male achievement. Similarly, the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color has developed a set of research-informed standards and promising practices for successfully educating boys of color. The Open Society Foundation has been involved for several years in funding successful programs that impact black male achievement. In like manner, many other foundations such as the Kellogg Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have made a commitment to targeted funding to benefit young people of color. These areas of work serve as a strong starting place for making significant positive changes for African Americans in the area of education.
As the work of the Department of Education and the newly established Commission begins, we encourage them to consider dropout recovery and reengagement as key area of work. There are an estimated 6.7 million "opportunity youth" ages 16-24 that are unattached from education and work. African-Americans are over-represented in this group and comprise 32% of all "opportunity youth", while they represent just 15% of this age population. By contrast, whites or other racial groups (excluding Hispanics) represent 67% of the age population and only 46% of "opportunity youth" (Belfield et. al, 2012). There is a clear need to focus on multiple education pathways that blend education, training, work experience, and support to help African Americans --especially those who lack high school diplomas and job skills -- achieve successful postsecondary and life outcomes.
Read more about CLASP's Youth Policy work and our focus on improving education and employment outcomes for black men and boys>>
Led by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Education, the Interagency Work Group on Disconnected Youth was established by the Obama Administration to advance national policy solutions for youth ages 16 to 24 who are disconnected from education, the workforce, and opportunity. As a part of this work, the Administration is advancing Performance Partnership Pilots designed to incentivize cross-systems approaches to serving disconnected youth. Of the 6.7 million disconnected youth, 32% are African American. The Department of Education issued a Request for Information this summer to solicit input into development of the Performance Partnership Pilots as well as federal cross-agency policy development and funding decisions. Read CLASP's Comments to U.S. Department of Education Request for Information on Strategies for Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth>> Other national policy organization responses, including the Campaign for Youth, can be found here.
Workforce Investment Reauthorization Act (WIA): What is at stake for African American youth and young adults?
In case you missed it! In June, the House Education and Workforce Committee passed a WIA Reauthorization Bill that would eliminate youth jobs and training. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR 4297) would cut employment and training services for approximately 250,000 young people across the nation. This is the wrong direction for our country at a time when the youth unemployment rate is 16.1% - twice the rate of the general population. For Latino youth ages 16 to 24, that figure jumps to 19.2%, and for African Americans it skyrockets to 25.8% - three times the national average. CLASP has prepared analyses of H.R. 4297 to help advocates and stakeholders understand how this bill would move youth development back a decade.back to top
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