One Step Forward: More Black Men In College Than Jail. But They’re Not Graduating
Typically we read no-so-positive statistics about African-American men. But according to some new studies, the statistics are changing for the better — on the surface. A new report found that more black men are in college than in prison.
According to Howard University professor Ivory Toldson in a story for The Root (via The American Project), a 2001 report on black male college enrollment by the Justice Policy Institute — “Cellblocks or Classrooms” — is far out of date. “If we replicated JPI’s analysis,” writes Toldson, “we would find a 108.5 percent jump in black male college enrollment from 2001 to 2011. The raw numbers show that enrollment of black males increased from 693,044 in 2001 to 1,445,194 in 2011.”
Using 2009 figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Department of Justice’s statistics on prison enrollment, we find that of the estimated two million inmates held in state or federal prison or local jails, 841,000 are African-American men. This is the DOJ’s most recent year for data on prison populations. These figures show that there were more than 150 percent more black males in college than incarcerated. As we recently reported, the number of blacks in prison has decline—for both African-American men and women.
Even though there are more black men in college, according to another report, college degree attainment lags for young men and minorities.
Compared to the 30 percent of women who earn a bachelor’s degree, only 22 percent of men do the same. And whites are twice as likely to graduate college by age of 25, reports Reuters (via Huffington Post). These numbers are based on a 14-year study highlights challenges for U.S. youth. “Wide racial and gender gaps persist among young Americans when it comes to earning a college degree and getting a job,” reports Reuters.
Moreover, the study found, at age 25, blacks and Hispanics were twice as likely as whites to be high school dropouts, while whites were more than twice as likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree.
Thirty percent of whites had graduated from college by their mid-20s, versus the only 14 percent of blacks and 12 percent of Hispanics had done so.
Even when whites drop out of high school, they were still more likely to spend more weeks employed than racial minorities, the study discovered. White dropouts spent 28 percent of their weeks between the ages of 22 and 25 out of work. Compare this to black dropouts, who were unemployed for 42 percent of that time.
The study included about 9,000 25-year-olds.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women who had at least a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be employed than similarly educated men and spend less time out of work.
Long story short, while there are many people questioning the value of a college education at a time when student loan debt and tuition are skyrocketing, having an advanced education is a valuable commodity in today’s job marketplace. Any advantage is to your benefit.