Young black and Latino men lag behind their contemporaries in nearly every measure of educational attainment, with many failing to attend college or earn degrees and large numbers facing the prospect of unemployment or incarceration.
The findings are included in two reports released at a briefing Monday by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. It was hosted by Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research in Cambridge, Mass.
The reports cull census data, academic research and in-depth interviews to paint a bleak picture of the educational experiences of young men across four racial and ethnic groups: African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Native Americans.
Among the findings:
• 28% of African American men and 16% of Latino men aged 25 to 34 had obtained an associate's degree or higher, compared with 70% of Asian American men and 44% of white men.
• Large proportions of minority men aged 15 to 24 with high school diplomas were unemployed — 34% of black men, 47% of Latinos, 39% of Native Americans and 30% of Asian Americans.
• Incarceration rates are increasing — 10% of black men aged 15-24 were incarcerated, as were 5% of Latinos and 3% of Asian Americans and Native Americans.
The report also found a creeping gender gap, with men in each race and ethnicity, including whites, less likely to attend and complete college and more likely to drop out than their female counterparts.
"This is not what we want for our young children, this is not what we want for our country," College Board President Gaston Caperton said at the Cambridge briefing, which was also attended by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., actor Hill Harper and others. "This is a black mark and a tragedy of America today."
The reports suggests that improving outcomes for young men of color must become a national priority and calls for community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support.
"As our nation becomes more diverse, it's going to become very important that these young men reach the same success that everyone else does," said the report's author, John Michael Lee Jr., policy director of the Advocacy & Policy Center.