All Articles Tagged "african-american education"
by KaShawn Archer
Over the last decade problems in education have increased despite plans put in place to reverse the decline. Government efforts like “No Child Left Behind” fall short leaving many schools without the resources to provide quality education. With a lack of citizens pursuing degrees in education and school budgets shrinking, future generations are at tremendous risk. However there are a number of educational organizations working to bring change. Like civil rights groups of yesteryear they’re not waiting on Washington for solutions, but crafting them in their own communities.
One of the most unique programs addressing the achievement gap today is Call Me MISTER. (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models). Started at Clemson University but now active across the country, MISTER prepares college students, mostly African-American males from underserved and educationally at-risk communities, for teaching careers. Student teachers work in after school programs in inner city neighborhoods, providing academic and leadership instruction. Expanding upon daily impact in the classroom, participants come together each year to express ideas and discuss new ways to help their communities. The program’s proactive approach and immediate integration of creative ideas into the curriculum has earned it much attention; even Oprah has touted their efforts.
Another esteemed organization is the Black Alliance For Education Options (BAEO). Their mission is to increase access to high-quality educational options for black children through programs that empower low-income and working class families. A consistent voice on the needs of African-American students, BAEO has organized to stop educational budget cuts as well as advocated for school vouchers as the number of charter schools have grown. One of BAEO’s largest events is an annual symposium hosting more than 500 youth advocates, educators and religious leaders. Each year a different set of issues within education is addressed. The most recent meeting focused on the urgent need for education reform.
Graham Boyd in (2001) asserted that the “war on drugs” is the New Jim Crow. His use of this metaphor is to illustrate the erosion of rights African Americans are subjected to under this pernicious campaign. Moreover, many of the same rights fought for during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the 19th Century by the abolitionist are being fought today because of this campaign Boyd opines. He predicted that by the year 2017, more black men would be under bondage than they were during the zenith of slavery in 1860. Michele Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow has been quoted as saying more black men are in prisons, probation and parole than they when they were enslaved. Her statement appears to confirm Boyd’s prediction.
Much has been made in regards to the inimical impact hyperincarceration has on the African American community, especially the impact on African American males. Michele Alexander builds on the earlier work of Graham Boyd and offers an interesting line of reasoning in regards to the impact incarceration has on the African American community. When she characterizes mass incarceration as a racial caste system, she inserts a different and interesting viewpoint, which has not been explored to the degree her new tome has forced scholars to examine. This caste system she defines is one where the stigmatized group is relegated to serfdom as a result of law and custom according to her. She goes on to aver that the residual affects of incarceration locks incarcerates out of mainstream society and the economy.
Both authors make excellent cases in regards to how the prison system resembles Jim Crow in the way it circumvents rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Additionally, they both underscore how incarceration decreases life chances for gainful employment, successful college matriculation and a host of other life enhancing opportunities averted once ensnared by the criminal justice system. However, I assert that they have placed the cart before the horse and have failed to credit the educational system with being the most salient reason for a permanent racial caste in the United States. Lack of education is the gateway to a lifetime of limited opportunities and a pathway to prison and poverty.
The educational system creates the caste system and prepares students for incarceration by reproducing social inequality via cultural and structural mechanisms, which researchers such as Ewert and others have demonstrated.
School practices such as tracking hamper future social and economic mobility. A byproduct of tracking is decreased skill level and low educational attainment, both salient factors in regards to contact with the criminal justice system. Educational attainment enhances occupational mobility and mitigates disadvantaged background and in many instances provides an upward path toward economic and social mobility. As a result, we should treat the symptom of incarceration and not the cause of hyperincarceration.
I strongly believe that the African American community should focus its energy on improving the educational system before attempting to get laws changed to mitigate the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Why? Because researchers have found that schools socialize students to assume their position in the class structure through a myriad of mechanisms according to Ewert (2010) et al. The authors, along with various other researchers, “contend that schools reflect the occupational structure and expectations found in society.” Thus, the underclass is prepared by the educational system to remain in the underclass and the mechanisms used to maintain their mediocrity are tracking, socialization and inadequate school funding.
Many authors have shown the link between lack of educational attainment and contact with the criminal justice system. Tracking, dropout, carve-out, and push-out mechanisms are the real culprits in creating fodder for the criminal justice system. As iterated, years of research have unequivocally established a connection between education, employment and criminal involvement. Furthermore, the inability and unwillingness of the government and schools to educate students has led to an unprecedented number of dropouts.
The Center for Labor Studies at Northeastern University found that “nearly twenty-three percent of all young Black men ages 16 to 24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution in America.” The dropout problem is worse than we realize because the Current Population Survey which does not count the incarcerated population underestimates the dropout rate among African American males by as much as 40% according to Ewart and others.
So when you consider that fifty-four percent of the nation’s dropouts ages 16 to 24 were jobless on an average month during 2008 and you consider the link between educational attainment and contact with the criminal justice system, reforming the educational system has the most potential to mitigate the impact of mass incarceration on the African American community and provide a pathway to economic and social mobility.
Byron E. Price is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?
(AP) — A public school district in Mississippi and the federal government are divided over whether the schools are complying with a desegregation order that dates back to the civil rights era. The Justice Department has asked a judge to order the Cleveland Public School District “to devise and implement a desegregation plan that will immediately dismantle its one-race schools,” but an attorney for the district said it has been following the latest order and sends the federal government updates on its integration attempts. ”Of our 10 schools, we have six that have a significant integrated population,” said attorney Jamie Jacks said. “The district was hopeful they (the Justice Department) would see not only that we are a truly integrated system within the Mississippi Delta, but we’re a good school district. Our kids do well and get a great education.” Before the 1969 order, schools on the west side of the railroad tracks that run through Cleveland were by law segregated white schools. More than 40 years later, students and faculty at those schools are still disproportionately white, the Justice Department said.
(New York Times) — The tale outlined outside court by the defendant’s supporters had a heartbreaking story line — a child tossed out of school, a homeless mother charged with felony theft for the crime of sending him to a better school than the one available to her, the inequalities that define America’s schools. But despite the torrent of angry calls and e-mails that have flooded Norwalk’s City Hall and school district as a result of the recent publicity, the case of the mother, Tanya McDowell, got only murkier on Wednesday as she pleaded not guilty to first-degree larceny and conspiracy charges stemming from accusations that she illegally sent her child to a suburban Norwalk school when he really lived in urban Bridgeport. Ms. McDowell’s story has become something of a cause célèbre since her arrest two weeks ago; education and civil rights advocates on Wednesday harshly criticized the charges against her. Others claim the child was summarily booted out of his elementary school in an affluent neighborhood. Yet the larger issue of access to equal education is in danger of being blurred by the far more complicated matter of just what happened to Ms. McDowell and her son, Andrew Justin Patches, a kindergartner.
By Charlotte Young
Across the country, the media has been picking up on a recent trend in public education—the separation of white and minority students to different and unequal schools. It’s a recurring trend that brings alarm to many who thought the fight for equality in schools had already been won.
But Dr. Martha Bireda, who’s been an education equity consultant for 20 years, is one who has known for a long time that “equal education is still elusive.” Throughout her consulting career, she took notice of the biases and dilemmas low-income minority children face everyday at school.
“There’s negative beliefs about the students and their families, low expectations for student achievement [and] a lack of collective responsibility for student achievement,” she said.
She further explained that there are often ‘stigmatizing’ learning environments that focus on controlling students instead of pushing them to academic excellence. As a result of her frustration around the disparities low-income children face in education, Bireda picked up her pen and addressed the problem in what became her recent book, Schooling Poor Minority Children: New Segregation in the Post-Brown Era.
“I believe that these students will continue to be chronically undereducated until the context in which they are schooled changes,” said Bireda. “It is my hope that this book will start a real discussion of all the factors, including those that contribute to low academic performance among this group of students.”
By Christina Burton
Low-income children, particularly black and Hispanic kids, are suffering the most from a cliff-like decline in childhood arts education.
In a recent government study, more than 50 percent of young black adults surveyed in 1982 said they received a childhood arts education compared to 26 percent in 2008, a 49 percent drop and the largest among all race groups. Among whites, childhood arts education dropped only 5 percent in the same time period.
The findings, released by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), give merit to the idea that budget cuts affecting arts programs are heavily concentrated in black and Hispanic school districts. In Los Angeles County, where about 1 in 10 people are black and half the residents are Hispanic, $18 million in state budget cuts are causing public schools to fire teachers, stop ordering books and increase class sizes, especially in poorer school districts.
Statewide funding for art and music classes have also been cut.
Despite the disproportionate impact of public education cutbacks on black and Hispanic children at the local, state and national level, George Simpson, principal of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) and an African-American, says that minority children have not been discouraged from getting interested in “what is familiar to them.”
Lisa Rentz, an arts teacher in Beaufort, S.C., teaches in three schools that are 96 percent black. These schools were specifically chosen for an “arts integration” federal grant that increased the amount of arts activities and projects within the school system to increase engagement and academic achievement.
“Availability of arts education in schools and arts opportunities– open auditions, calls for art shows, inexpensive classes – are the key to interest,” Rentz said. “It’s kind of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation. With kids, especially, if there’s no art to make, no stage for them, then they will quickly find less culturally beautiful activities to fill their time and thoughts.”
“The truth is that there is excitement about what they know,” Simpson said. “Youth culture of all ethnicities is ever attuned to popular arts—[including] music—the dominant art form—and some dance, graphic arts, film [and] media.”
LACHSA, a free public school founded in 1985, is currently building a brand new facility. Six hundred students from across Los Angeles County—some who travel more than 30 miles— attend LACHSA each day. Its ratio of white to black students is five to one.
The school, like other arts programs and organizations nationwide, is largely funded by their own fundraising efforts. LACHSA lost about $1 million in state funding since the 2008-2009 school year. The Genesee Center for Arts and Education in Rochester, NY receives most of its funding from local and regional foundations, but corporate funding has shifted to the shallow end of the pool.
by Charlotte Young
E-books may assist some readers who were previously intimidated by thick books and countless pages, but they are steadily widening the reading gap by creating a culture of reading dependent on technology.
This increasing gap will especially impact the black community. While African American writers have been producing great works continuously for the past thirty years, it has been accompanied with the steady increase of the African-American high school drop-out rate. In addition, black students are behind in reading levels across the nation.
Reuters reports on the fears of renowned author Marita Golden, who says, “if reading becomes dependent on technology that must be purchased, then I think we may see the literacy divide persist and even widen.”
In response to this concern, she put together “The Word,” her recent book which shares how reading shaped the lives of several contemporary, prominent African American writers.
The award-winning author and other like-minded individuals who believe in the power of reading still hold out hope that their fear of the digital reading divide will not manifest.
Golden acknowledges that African Americans own more mobile phones and BlackBerries than White Americans. This could provide a potential solution to the problem of e-books.
The question lies in what the mobile phone and BlackBerry owners will choose to download: games or books?
by Sue Naylor
There are over 100 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) where over 370,000 black students study with larger groups of non-black students. This network of integrated schools provides black students a safe and secure learning atmosphere.
At the bottom of the list of the top 10 black colleges is North Carolina Central University, which is the only public college that has made it to the list. With over 100 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs of study, NCCU appeals to all students. Dillard University in New Orleans offers more than 35 majors and has a reputed nursing school. It is famous for the Institute of Jazz Culture that was established in 2002. Claflin University is a ‘Very Selective HBCU’ and is a South Carolina based liberal arts college. Tuskegee University has a strong agricultural tradition as was designated by Congress as a national historic site. Hampton University offers 68 undergraduate programs, 27 masters programs, 6 doctoral programs and 2 specialist degrees in education. Among the top 5 black colleges, at number 5 is Xavier University of Louisiana, which is the only black Roman Catholic university in the United States and has one of two pharmacy schools in Louisiana.
Fisk University at Tennessee was give tier 1 status in the 2008 ranking by the U.S. News & World Report. It is renowned for its Jubilee Singers choir. Morehouse College is a part of the Atlanta University Center and is an all-male liberal arts college. Howard University or ‘Black Harvard’ with ‘Spelman College’ tops the list of black colleges.
by Steven Barboza
“I went to a class where the professor said if you didn’t appreciate Beethoven, Bach and Brahms, you were culturally deprived, to which I responded, if you didn’t appreciate James Brown, you were culturally deprived.” – Gloria Ladson-Billings
As a recent documentary film suggests, many parents and educators have been “Waiting for Superman” to fix our broken public education system. He simply isn’t coming. Imhotep, however, has landed in Philly.
A public charter high school that graduated its first class in 2000, Imhotep is hard to miss if you live in Philadelphia. It’s based in a $10 million educational complex. It produces championship athletic teams. The student population of 558 is overwhelmingly black. No Imhotep student is left behind — they all go onto college. And every day, there’s an Imhotep wardrobe riot going on as many teachers and students don colorful African clothing.
For all its success in using “culturally relevant teaching,” the school hasn’t emitted so much as a dull bleep on the radar screens of education cognoscenti seeking replicable school reforms, leaving one to question whether the school is just “too African” for America.
However, culturally relevant teaching as practiced there might be worth another look as a method capable of reaching the nation’s students. The nation, after all, is facing an education crisis of the first order: only 6 in 10 blacks and Hispanics graduate from high school.
Named for the legendary ancient Egyptian genius from the third dynasty who is credited with inventing papyrus, designing pyramids and founding medicine, Imhotep is the kind of school where the principles of Kwanzaa are called upon every day, where self-determination is an article of faith, and where students learn to “take responsibility for yourself, your brothers and your sisters.”
“When I started Imhotep, I did a graphic that put the student in the middle and made sure everything was designed to meet the needs of the child, not the teachers’ or the administration’s or the institution’s,” said CEO and founder Christine Wiggins, who is called Mama Wiggins. “And I continually try to do that.”
This meant designing a curriculum that “centers” Imhotep students by valuing Africa as the birthplace of humanity and learning. Mama Wiggins and her staff of 60 call the students “Nubians” and approach teaching as if academics originated in the motherland.
“Developmentally, children need to know they are descendants of great thinkers,” Wiggins said. “When you never show them anybody that looks like them and that hasn’t achieved anything, then they don’t believe that they can achieve anything.”
She added: “It’s not advantageous to put a child in the classroom and give him a textbook where the only pictures of people that look like him are people on their knees in chains and being whipped. We’re going to show them images of their great African fathers and mothers as leaders in math and science, so everything that I do is centered around that basic premise.”
Detractors see the African mash-up of academics as fraudulent, saying you don’t have to see yourself in a curriculum; you just have to learn, or you’ll suffer the consequences.
But the Imhotep formula appears to get results: for nine years straight, 100% of Imhotep students have gotten into college, Wiggins said, adding, “The average in the country is running about 30%.” Her students win entrance to between 5 and 20 colleges, giving them a wide choice of colleges to attend.
Incoming Imhotep students are not filtered. “The children who come to us are the ones who have not been ‘saved’ in traditional schools,” she said. “I do a dance if I get a child in grade nine who is reading on a sixth grade level. Usually they are reading on a fourth and fifth grade level.”
by Christopher Kendalls
I was inspired to hear the news about Spike Lee working with the Education Secretary in calling for more Black Men to become teachers. Drawing from his own experiences, Spike Lee said that two of the most influential Black men in his life were professors that helped him through high school. Spike Lee has also attended Morehouse College, and if anyone can show young Black men the merits of pursuing an education he can, as his education gave him a fresh perspective that he brings into film-making he might not have had otherwise.
This is also a great way for Spike Lee to continue with the call for being conscientious that began with his films in the eighties and nineties. I do agree that we should be more involved in the educational process. When I attended private schools and parochial schools as a youth there were few Black teachers. Out of all of teachers I had known during those years I can only think of a single Black teacher ; a woman who made an impression on me.
When you think of an African-American with a degree , who comes to mind? Perhaps you know someone who is a lawyer, a doctor, someone with a political science degree or even a social worker? To be fair, many Black professionals come out their field and teach at colleges and universities later on in their career. But the idea of actively pursuing a career in education is not the first thing that comes to mind. We know what can happen when a Black man gives back to his community and inspires and mentors our youth. The strong Black men we see in the community that have went down the wrong path and have turned their lives around are great, but we want to see more Black men whose sole intention in life is to give back.