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NAACP Leader Says San Francisco Public Schools Failing Black Students

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- San Francisco's NAACP leader says there's a crisis in city schools.

San Francisco's NAACP President Amos Brown sounded off on an achievement gap in the Los Angeles Times calling it a state of emergency and is demanding answers from the district.

According to the San Francisco Unified School District, 88 percent of African American students failed to test proficient or better in math this past year.

Brown told the LA Times the school district is failing African-American students.

When we brought the numbers to politicians and local leaders Tuesday we pretty much heard the same answer across the board.

"So I think the number is staggering but it's not a surprise," said San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen.

San Francisco Acting Mayor London Breed said, "The fact of the matter is these statistics are not new. We should not be surprised."

SFUSD President Shamann Walton said, "That state of emergency has always been there in my opinion."

The district promised to improve the achievement gap by 2021. And he says it is doing better.

"The gap has actually decreased incrementally but we have a lot more work to do in terms of achieving it," Walton said.

That's true if you look at graduation rates. Those are up to 71 percent this past year for African-American students, compared to 56 percent in 2009.

But the math tests tell another story.

In 2012, 36 percent of African-American students were proficient in math. Now, that has dropped to just 12 percent today.

Trey Russell, SFUSD after-school program coordinator said, "African-American students or kids of color don't always get the direct attention they need."

Russell sees this struggle on a daily basis and says the district needs to dedicate more resources if it ever hopes to make a dent in this decades-old issue.

"Resources are low so it's a struggle between that and making sure the kids have that direct one on one time," Russell said.

School district leaders pointed out a couple of things they are working on to close this gap, including wrap around services for families that need them most and working to retain teachers, which has a huge impact on student achievement. Creating teacher housing is among the ideas to keep teachers in the city.

More information on plans for the upcoming school year are expected at the school board's next meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

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