Schooling Students Placed at Risk: Research, Policy, and Practice in the Education of Poor and Minority Adolescents

By Mavis G. Sanders | Go to book overview

9
African-American Student Success in Independent Schools: A Model of Family, School, and Peer Influences

ROBERT COOPER
AMANDA DATNOW
Johns Hopkins University

This chapter examines survey and interview data collected from African-American students in 15 independent schools in Baltimore to analyze the relative importance of family, peers, and the school in influencing students' school success, defined as college enrollment. The data presented in this chapter show that despite the culture shock experienced by many African-American students when they first enter these institutions, many of them have developed a strong network of support to overcome the unique academic, social, emotional, and psychological challenges they encounter in these environments. A combination of family, peer group, and school factors help>lb /> these students to be both academically and socially successful. This chapter reports data that explain the contribution of each of these factors in the success of AfricanAmerican students at elite, independent schools.

Numerous studies and national reports have documented the continuous decline of public education, particularly in urban areas. This decline has caused many African-American parents in urban centers to seek alternative educational options for their children. Historically, the alternatives to public education for African-American students have been severely limited. Prior to the 1960s, the attendance of African-American students at some of the nation's most elite independent schools was prohibited. Today, however, large numbers of African-American students are taking advantage of private school education. Many attend parochial schools, and an increasing number of African-Americans are enrolling in elite independent schools ( Datnow & Cooper, chap. 10, this volume). These schools offer some advantages: higher

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