You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

NAACP to host MLK Day achievement gap forum with movie, discussion

By Danielle Arndt

On Monday, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Ann Arbor National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will tackle an issue that has suppressed today’s African American youth — the achievement gap.

The NCAAP is hosting an Achievement Gap Forum to bring to light the challenges that have contributed to poor test scores and graduation rates among blacks and to brainstorm a solution.


Ann Arbor NAACP President William Hampton

This is the second forum the NAACP has conducted on this topic in Ann Arbor.

“What we really would like to come up with are some actual action steps we can take to address this issue here,” said Sandra Harris, forum committee member. “Those will be steps we try to develop with the help of the educational community. That’s why we are inviting these educators and leaders (to participate).”

A panel of experts will direct the discussion, answering questions from attendees and sharing their opinions, after a movie is shown.

The film, “Beyond the Bricks,” is part of a national community engagement campaign to promote hope among blacks and educators alike.

It is a documentary that follows African American students Shaquille Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on track in the Newark, N.J., public school system.

According to the “Beyond the Bricks” Facebook page, weaved into the boys’ stories is commentary from several well-known scholars and advocates for black education issues, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, Ivory Toldson, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Schott Foundation President John Jackson.

Beyond the Bricks is also an organization that’s committed to providing resources for educators on teaching the black male. Visit their website for more information.

Monday’s event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Michigan Theatre screening room at 603 E. Liberty St.

The panel will consist of Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township; University of Michigan professor Larry Rowley; Ann Arbor NAACP President William Hampton; and Skyline High School teacher Patricia Douglass Jenkins.

The NAACP recognizes the achievement gap as a national problem. Blacks, and especially black boys, are consistently performing worse in school than Caucasian students.

The gap has closed slightly, in some respects, at Ann Arbor Public Schools, according to recent test scores. But school officials intend to continue to address and make strides toward eliminating the problem at AAPS.

Harris said she anticipates the issue as it relates to AAPS will be brought up at the forum, but that is why a member of the school system was asked to sit on the panel.

“(The achievement gap) is not the type of thing that can just be solved by one entity doing something. … There are many parts, and they all need to be working together,” Harris said, adding that’s why specific steps for each party to take must be established.

Monday’s event is being co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor chapter of The Links, Inc. For more information on the organization, visit

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Martin Luther King was a very honorable man, he said we should judge by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. When are we going to start? I judge black people based on content of their character while they judge me on the color of my skin..................They are taught by their leaders that people like me hold them down; I'm sick and tired of that and being grouped into that category. If I don't agree, I'm labeled a racist. You reap what you sow; many people are trying to help but cannot state the plain truth due to political correctness; so we continue the feel good and wallowing over forty years later.......................


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

Start representing the black community with role models like Herman Cain, Bill Cosby, Will Smith, etc... instead of rap stars and leaders who only remind them everyday what victims they are. There is a saying that those who say they can't and those who say they can are usually right. The commentator says that the kids all say the same "one nation under god, indivisable, with liberty and justic for all". Since when have we been saying this? The progressives have demanded this be removed from schools. Maybe it should be re-introduced, maybe they should get their facts straight on the video.............

Jeff Gaynor

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

It does not appear that any of the comments so far - cynical and reactive as they are - bothered to look at the Beyond the Bricks website, linked to above, which aims at dealing with the achievement gap " creating grass-roots dialog and action plans that challenge all the stakeholders; educators, parents, policy makers, community members and the students themselves..."


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Please no more pizza parties.

Michigan Man

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

From my vantage point the achievement gap has been ongoing and perhaps widening for decades. I am a 1960's high school graduate. It seems to me, despite trillions of valuable public tax dollars invested, public education has become weaker, less relevant, more fragmented and poorer in quality. I will be unable to attend these MLK events but I think we all know who will be blamed for the failures to eradicate the racial achievement gap. We, of course know, that the public will be asked to allocate more tax payor money to "solve" this long standing problem.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Another show and tell event with little or nothing coming out of it. Put it in a time capsule and replay it 20 years from now and the results will be the same. Another gimmick program, another panel discussion and another MLK event with all the hoopla will not solve the Achievement Gap. The most important ingredient in this panel is missing and guess what that is?


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Bill Cosby had it right, and no one in the community is listening to him. While additional resources could be deployed in school, the reality is that parents don't and won't care about school for their children. Many do and those children excel, but many don't and those children fail. It is not about black/brown/white/purple - it is about the values at home. A large screen TV check - an encyclopedia no need. A cool car - check - a shelf of children's book no need. Decisions on how to spend money and where to focus time is in the hands of parents. The first thing that this group should do is focus on teaching parents how to be parents. Playing the BIll Cosby tape would be a better use of time for this group.

Brian Kitchin

Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

Bless your hearts but until your can get the kids to abandon the Hip Hop culture and stop babies from having babies it will never get any better. Sad but true. Parents, know where your kids are, know their teachers, know what's going on in your neighborhood. All the tax dollars in the world can't help a kid if the parents don't care. So please stop asking that we, the taxpayers, keep throwing good money after bad. Clean up your side of the road before you start throwing stones at everybody else.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Hand-wringing gloves will be available for purchase in the lobby prior to the event.