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A new study by the The Schott Foundation for Public Education shows that a meager 47 percent of Black males are graduating from high school. A CNN round table, featuring John Johnson, CEO of the Schott Foundation, and Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada, gets down to the matter—asking critical questions about America’s widening education gap.

Johnson, who conducted the study, reveals the numbers show little progress, and are actually heading in the opposite direction. The disappointing figures are compared with 78 percent of White males who are graduating from high school.

An even frightening figure shows that only 25 percent of Black males are graduating in New York state, and in New York City—which has the largest Black male enrollment—only ¬†28 percent¬†graduates.

So what’s happening? Why aren’t Black males earning high school diplomas?

Canada considers two theories. The ever increasing sub-standard of American public education, and the lack of support for Black male students (and their families) attending urban schools with no sense of community.

Johnson, however, urges people to consider external factors—such as economics and incarceration—that obviously play a huge role in why brothas aren’t finishing school. Johnson says, “We know that there’s a correlation between educational attainment and the community’s economic base, and a correlation between educational attainment, and quite frankly, incarceration.”

The panel also covers the subject of mentoring, ultimately citing the successful graduation rates of New York schools like Urban Prep and Eagle Academy. These schools show strategies that could actually bring America’s education gap to a gradual close.

CNN anchor Tony Harris also asks the panel’s thoughts about Education Secretary Ann Duncan’s push to get more Black males in front of classrooms as teachers.

What do you think is the problem(s)? What sound solutions would you offer?

Check out the video of the panel discussion below:

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