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Florida ranks at bottom for graduation rate of black men

The statement

"Seven of the 10" school districts with the lowest graduation rate for African-American boys are in Florida.

State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, in a floor debate.

The ruling

One of the attacks against SB 736 — the teacher tenure and merit pay proposal headed to Gov. Rick Scott's desk — is that the bill is attempting to make sweeping changes to a system that doesn't need it.

But Wise, SB 736's prime sponsor, said there's more to it.

"The dirty little secret we don't talk about is: Where are the black boys?" Wise said in a Senate floor speech. "It's awful, it's absolutely pathetic what the graduation rate is for African-American boys. … We have seven of the 10 worst school districts in America on graduation of black boys. We've kept it a secret."

Wise told us the figure came from a 2010 report released by the Massachusetts-based Schott Foundation for Public Education. The report attempted to calculate the percentage at which African-American males are graduating high school compared with other students. The foundation examined 2007-08 data from 59 large school districts across the country with African-American student populations of at least 10,000.

Michael Holzman, a research consultant for the Schott Foundation, said he simply divided the number of standard diplomas awarded in 2008 by the number of students who entered high school four years earlier, then compared the performance of black males to white males.

Nationwide, 47 percent of black males graduated high school compared with 78 percent of white males. In Florida just 37 percent of black males graduated compared with 57 percent of white males.

The three lowest African-American graduation rates among the 59 districts examined were all in Florida — Pinellas County graduated 21 percent of its African-American students, Palm Beach County 22 percent and Duval County 23 percent.

A fourth Florida district, Miami-Dade, had the seventh-lowest graduation rate, according to the Schott analysis.

That's four out of 10, more than any other state, but not the seven of 10 Wise claimed on the Senate floor.

Wise's number is a bit shaky, but we're giving him credit for his point. To us, that rates Half True.

Edited for print. For more rulings, go to


Florida ranks at bottom for graduation rate of black men 03/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011 10:59pm]
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