The education of Blacks has reached a state of crisis that demands a strong response from all African-Americans, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson told members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association at its annual convention here.
“We have a crisis when it comes to public education in this country,” Johnson said at a luncheon on Friday. “Only 52 percent of our third- and fourth-graders are reading at grade level. If you’re Black, only 16 percent of our kids in the third and fourth grade are reading at grade level – only 16 percent. To make matters worse, if you’re not reading at grade level by the time you leave the third grade, 75 percent of the kids never catch up.”
Johnson continued, “So, essentially if you can’t read by the time you leave the third grade, the chances of you ever reading is very slim. This should be enough to outrage every single person in this room when 84 percent of the kids who look like us cannot read.”
Johnson, a former star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, is president of the National Conference of Black Mayors and is slated to become president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors next year. He is passionate about education, setting up his own private school in Sacramento prior to becoming Sacramento’s first Black mayor.