And now, to a new study about education. It calls attention to an old problem using alarming statistics. Among them, that black males are nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school as white males.

NPR's Larry Abramson has that story.

LARRY ABRAMSON: As head of the Council of the Great City Schools, Mike Casserly has seen lots of depressing numbers about achievement for minority students. But performance for black males is shockingly low.

Dr. MICHAEL CASSERLY (Executive Director, Council Of The Great City Schools): African-American male students who were neither disabled nor poor were doing no better than white male students who were disabled and or poor.

ABRAMSON: A new report by the council analyzed test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress to get at other depressing truths about achievement for African-American men and boys. They are twice as likely as whites to be held back in elementary school, three times as likely to be suspended from school.

That trend follows black men right into adulthood. They're half as likely to graduate college in four years, as white male students.

The Council of the Great City Schools hopes these numbers will lead to a White House conference focusing on achievement for black males. But many other studies have drawn attention to this problem with few results.

The Schott Foundation has produced four reports on this issue over the past decade. Michael Holzman, a consultant for Schott, says the problem is simple: Most black male students go to lousy schools.

Dr. MICHAEL HOLZMAN (Consultant, The Schott Foundation): If we look at schools that are predominately black, and we look at the achievement of white kids who are in those schools, we find that the white kids don't do well either.

ABRAMSON: The Schott study points to New Jersey school districts that have been successful in reducing the achievement gap, thanks to extra attention and extra funding brought about by a lawsuit.

Some black leaders, however, feel the problem goes beyond funding. Michael Wotorson, of the Campaign for High School Equity, says black students enter kindergarten less prepared. And that means black home life plays some role.

Mr. MICHAEL WOTORSON (Executive Director, Campaign for High School Equity): Until we address our own culpability, we're going to be making very, very slow progress.

ABRAMSON: The Council of the Great City Schools says the numbers are so bad for this group, Congress needs to establish a special program.

Larry Abramson, NPR News, Washington.

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