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The statistics for Black girls and education are still a sobering read despite the strides we’ve made: 34 percent of African-American girls did not graduate high school on time in 2010, versus 22 percent of all female students; 12 percent of African-American pre-kindergarten through 12th grade female students were given an out-of-school suspension during the 2011-2012 school year; the suspension rate for Black girls is six times higher than their white female counterparts.

According to researchers, racial disparities in student rates of misbehavior do not account for this gulf.

Of course this is a major racial discrepancy. “In 2013, 43 percent of black women without a high school degree were living in poverty, compared to 28 percent of white women with the same levels of educational attainment. Black women with full-time jobs working year-round still make just 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and 82 cents for every dollar that their white female counterparts make,” reports Colorlines.

According to a new report (PDF) by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (NAACP LDF) and the National Women’s Law Center, longstanding structural barriers to Black women’s educational and economic success are at the root of these depressing statistics. The report, “Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls,” provides a historical context for Black girls’ and women’s educational and economic experiences. It covers a range of issues that play into the problem including public perception and self-esteem. It also offers policy recommendations on how to change these racial gaps, such as access to athletics and other extracurricular opportunities.

The report was compiled in response to feedback for My Brother’s Keeper, the Obama administration initiative to support boys of color. Many say the exclusion of Black girls is a mistake.

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