#AfAmEdChat to Discuss How the State of the Union Affects African-American Communities

President Obama began the 2014 State of the Union address emphasizing his commitment that all American children have access to a world class education, stating in his first comments, “today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.”

SOTU GraphicOn Thursday, February 6, 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will be hosting a special #AfAmEdChat on Twitter to discuss what the President’s address means for African-American communities.  The chat will explore the importance of the President’s emphasis on education including high-quality early childhood education, rigorous preparation for college and careers, supporting parents and communities, and recruiting the next generation of great teachers.

    • What:  #AfAmEdChat on what the State of the Union Address means for African-American Communities
    • When: 12-1 pm EST Thursday, February 6, 2014
    • Where:  Follow the Twitter conversation with #AfAmEdChat hashtag and follow @AfAmEducation

On the first and third Thursday of each month, the Initiative hosts a one-hour #AfAmEdChat to increase awareness of the educational challenges faced by African American students, whether they are in urban, suburban, or rural learning environments. The chats are facilitated by Executive Director, David J. Johns with guest panelists offering expertise on a range of issues and strategies supporting the President’s commitment to Opportunity for All.

Learn more about the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans by signing up for email updates.

Khalilah Harris is a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. She is an education program and policy advisor, attorney and a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.


  1. Commendations are due everyone who is interested in improving the conditions that impact on the soul & character of black children and teens. Unfortunately, these future adults who in many cases will become marginalized and never enjoy the fruits of this opulent society unless some kind of mass organizing of parents is done. And this organizing has to be culturally appropriate. Current organizations like PTA, PTO, and a bevy of School Site Councils are totally ineffective! Primarily, because they reflect too much of white middle class behavior. And not enough mannerisms, mores, and nuances of the target community. Particularly, the poor and people of color communities that make up the 5,000 chronically underprivileged public school districts that Secretary Arne Duncan is always talking about. Seriously, the US Department of Education is concerned about black families and very low to low-income citizens . . . . Forthrightly,why is this so difficult for everyone to understand. Explaining or diagnosing the problem of why our children don’t achieve is futile when there’s mismangement of resources by middle class white and black Administrators. Therefore, it’s obvious that parents who are not part of mainstream America learn how to come together with the help of Black Churches and lobby for their rights and benefits as stakeholders who in some cases pay property taxes and if they are too poor for that they at least are law abiding!

    PS Again, we need to all come together and Mr. David T. Johns needs to develop more of an advocacy posture, especially since he comes from Harlem. This brother should be getting down for all of us. And he will if there’s ever a push from the lumpen-proletariat class. Therefore, I submit, that the frustration must come to an end. And that some serious policy and planning implementation commence on how Title I Categorical Funding should be reengineered for critical solution implementation,and that Inner City Black Churches be deeply involved in the whole process.

  2. Please explain why there is no discusssion of the impact of the definition change for adverse credit in relation to the Parent Plus Loan. The ecnomic downturn negatively impacted African American families greatly, especially in the housing market. There are numerous African American Parents being denied the Parent Plus Loan. Please explain how this will promte education for African American children. It actually has the opposite effect.

  3. The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.
    Rev.Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. In your chat on Thursday, February 6, 2014, in addition to supporting families and communities, I think it’s important for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to also explore the importance of promoting, encouraging, and giving African American and other families and communities of color the tools, information, and support needed to be engaged in their child’s education in ways that connect to student learning.

    Engaging families is important at all ages of a child’s education and especially early childhood education. Imagine, if coupled with quality preschool education that parents are armed with tools, information, and support on what they can do at home to support their young child? Imagine, if their child is in elementary or secondary school, if parents/families knew and understood the best ways to support their child’s learning–what can they do at home, how can they monitor their child’s education, what’s the best ways to advocate for their child or teach their child to advocate for themselves, how can they partner with their child’s teacher and school, what can they do at home to help get their child be college and career ready, or how can they teach their child be engaged in their own education? Imagine, if community members, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, city and state agencies, religious entities, and businesses are all engaging in education to support student learning and to help parents connect to their child’s education in meaningful ways.

    Thirty years of research including the oft-cited studies by Joyce Epstein and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, Anne Henderson, Karen Mapp, and other family engagement researchers demonstrate the strong correlation between parental/family engagement and increased academic achievement. According to Herbert Walberg (1984) in his review of 29 studies of school-parent programs he found that family engagement in education is twice as predictive of students’ academic success as is a family’s socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive parent-school programs showed effects that were 10 times greater than other factors.

    Lastly, engaging African American families in education can help to provide a critical foundation for their child’s academic learning and can be a powerful predictor of a student’s academic success. The social, emotional and educational habits and behaviors learned and practiced in the home towards education can have long-term influences on a student’s motivation and engagement in their own learning. Through family engagement strategies and practices and by understanding the implications of family patterns–habits, values, attitudes and practices–on student learning, schools, families, and communities can really work as partners in learning and supporting the educational and personal successes of African American students.

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