All Articles Tagged "black schools"
There is something about attending a historically black college or university that isn’t always easily summed up in words. There is something special, reverent that—if you are fortunate enough to have attended and graduated from one—you can’t always explain to someone who explored different higher education options. Some people doubt the relevance of an “all black” school in a “real world” that is far from all black. Some dismiss the caliber of education received at HBCUs as sub par.
For those who chose to attend an HBCU when they very easily could have chosen their pick of the litter, you know what others do not. You know that there is no place that can embrace you, challenge you, love you, frustrate you, prepare you and propel you into destiny quite like the right HBCU. You, like I, didn’t reserve your alma mater as a back up plan. You surveyed your myriad options and decided that it, hands down, was the best choice. When others tout their degrees from other institutions they deem more rigorous and acceptable, you smirk because—without taking anything from their accomplishment—you know the truth…and the truth never needs to be argued. It stands alone.
There seems to be a kinship shared amongst graduates of historically black institutions. If you’re out and you come across someone else who graduated from an HBCU, it’s as if there is an immediate commonality, even if he or she attended a different school. “You went to Spelman? Man, I went to Hampton.” And so the conversation goes. It’s almost like we’re all a part of this overarching fraternity. Yet, at the same time there is unending rivalry as well. It is understood that not all HBCUs are created equal. As such, it is common for alumni to one up each other in a quest to solidify their institution of choice as the best.
I recently attended a fundraiser where another attendee asked what school I graduated from. When I responded, he followed with a quick, “Ok, so you graduated from the second best HBCU that exists huh?” Baffled, I asked which institution was considered the best. He informed me that his alma mater, FAMU, was. I chuckled because, again, the truth never needs to be argued.
You see, I am a proud graduate of Howard University, the place we alums affectionately refer to as the Mecca. Like many HBCUs, Howard feels like home. In fact, as you walk onto the hilly campus, you are greeted by a sign that literally says “Welcome Home.” You are surrounded by a sea of beautiful blackness. And while it may seem sometimes that it’s just about looking the part, Howard’s campus is filled with brilliantly beautiful minds. As you walk through the hallways of Douglas Hall, you are reminded of legends who walked those very halls centuries earlier. It is difficult to not be humbled by the sheer weight of the importance that such an institution, and other institutions like it, has played in the history of people of the African Diaspora. It gives me great pride to be associated with such a legacy of excellence.
I recently saw a poster that said that the first African American Supreme Court Justice, African American U.S. Senator, female mayor of a major city, African American female lawyer, African American U.S. governor, African American U.S. Ambassador, African American General in the U.S. Army, and I could go on and on, were all graduates of Howard University. That is what an HBCU education will get you, for those who were wondering. To all of my fellow Bison, I send an “awwwww HU” your way. And to my HBCU companions who didn’t choose Howard, I love you too. But like Kanye, when he hopped on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift, I submit to you “No disrespect to your school, Howard is the best; in fact, it’s the standard.” I kid. Not really.
While I am clearly biased—I unabashedly, indubitably, and unequivocally herald Howard as the best—I am sure that if you are a graduate of a historically black institution that you have a similar pride in your alma mater. Let’s talk about it.
Are you proud that you attend or have graduated from a historically black institution? If so, what sets your school apart from the others?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
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(New York Times) — Everyone knows Jamaica High is a bad school. The past two years, it has received D’s on its report card from the city and been labeled persistently dangerous by the state. In February, the Bloomberg administration placed Jamaica on a list of 22 failing schools it planned to close. The mayor and his schools chancellors have sent letters encouraging students to enroll elsewhere, and the shrinking of the student body has led to a decline in financing, squeezing the juice out of Jamaica High. There was no money for lab lessons in advanced biology, which upset Doreen Mohammed and Tonmoy Kabiraj, who hope to be doctors. Courtney Perkins’s advanced math class did not have graphing calculators until eight months into the school year. The last music teacher was sent to another school, which really frustrated Mills Duodu, who plays violin, trumpet, drums and piano.
(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.
Are HBCUs still relevant? It’s the recurring question that has been seen in many op-ed pieces as of late, but in lieu of this question comes another—are students who choose to attend a historically black college over an elite college hurting their future earnings potential?
The New York Times recently addressed this question on their Economix blog in “The Declining Payoff From Black Colleges,” in which they cite a 2007 study conducted by Roland G. Fryer Jr., a professor of economics at Harvard University, and Michael Greenstone, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who conclude that it is in fact true that students who graduate from an HBCU will suffer a “wage penalty.”
In the study, the professors compare the earnings potential of HBCU graduates in the 1970s to the 1990s, stating that HBCU matriculation was associated with higher wages and an increased probability of graduation, as opposed to a traditionally white institution, back in the 1970s. But by the 1990s, HBCU graduates suffered from a 20% decline in wages.
The professors used many variables during their research, including family income, parents’ education, test scores, high school grades, college majors, post-secondary education, and location in the southern region of the U.S.
What is the cause of this wage decline? According to Fryer and Greenstone, it is due to the possibility that in recent years, HBCUs have not done a superb job of educating their students and preparing them for post-college life, as have traditionally white institutions.
“There is stronger evidence that the later HBCU matriculates were less satisfied with their choice of college and reported developing fewer leadership and social skills that are valuable in post-college life,” wrote Fryer and Greenstone.
Tuanni Price, a senior accounts payable manager for Demand Media, disputes that idea that HBCUs hurt future earnings potential. “Both my husband and I graduated from Grambling State University and earn in the top tier of our respective fields,” she said. “We both earn over $80K annually. What is more important is acquiring marketable job skills, experience, confidence, contacts and asking for what you are worth.”
The New York Times suggest that the wage decline could be attributed to the career fields that HBCU graduates choose to venture into, which they cite as generally being in the nonprofit and public sectors. Fryer and Greenstone concur, stating that “on the positive side, HBCU attendees became relatively more likely to be engaged in social, political, and philanthropic activities.”
HBCUs bestow as many as 40% of degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM], educate half the country’s black teachers and 40% of blacks in health professions, all of which are mid to high level income occupations, but interestingly, neither the Times nor the study reflect on this.
Though Sheryl Jones, a life coach and graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., admits that she believes her earning potential was hurt because her school did not have up-to-date equipment, she believes that her professors were “superior.”
“I think overall I have done well in life because of my education at a HBCU,” she said. “I think some students may not do as well because there’s a lack of funding and endowments at HBCUs than at traditionally white institutions”
“I have sorority sisters who are doctors, college professors, lawyers and one started a video game company using HBCU athletes,” added Jones. “I really think this is just another negative story about HBCUs.”