Racial Gap Continues to Widen in Education

OMAHA (KPTM) - The latest report from the State of Nebraska on schools say while students overall are improving when it comes to writing and science, minority students are falling behind in Math.

As a part of the study, 11th graders were evaluated on proficiency in Math.

The report says only 19% African American students met or exceeded standards in math. Only 20% of Native Americans and 29% of Hispanic students were proficient. Students from migrant families fared the worst at 17%.

That compares to a 69% proficiency rate for white Nebraska students in Math.

Mother and activist Shawntel Smith says the numbers show the educational system needs a lot of work. "It tells me there needs to be some tailoring of the educational system and the teaching process to capture those kids who are falling through the gaps," she says.

When it comes to finding a solution, Smith says life at home must change. "A lot of the kids come from a background where they don't get the attention they need," she says, "so when they come to school they are just acting out."

The growing gap is not just a state problem. It has been a national trend that has drawn concern for years.

"Our education system is falling short," says Omaha Public School Assistant Superintendent Renae Kerhberg. "We've talked about it for decades but we know we have not made the progress we need to make."

Omaha Public Schools officials say they have been putting together an action plan to narrow the gap.