Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

New Visions of Collective Achievement: The Cross-Generational Schooling Experiences of African American Males

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

New Visions of Collective Achievement: The Cross-Generational Schooling Experiences of African American Males

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to allow African American males across generations to share their perceptions of the factors that affected their schooling experiences and influenced their achievement in and beyond school. Individual interviews were conducted with men and boys within the context of their home environment; outside of the schools the boys attended. The participants' schooling experiences call for establishing a model of collective achievement that captures and delineates the engagement and investment of the multiple stakeholders involved in their education. Such a model will bring about a higher level of multiple stakeholder accountability that would likely improve students' schooling experiences and increase the academic and life outcomes for African American males.

Keywords: collective achievement, African American males, school reform, teacher education


In today's educational context of the "Achievement Gap" and "Disproportionality in Special Education," as well as the so-called "Crisis with Black Males," (Jackson & Moore, 2006; Pluvoise, 2008; Watson, 2006;) there are long-standing debates regarding the engagement and investment of African American boys in school (Mincy, 2006; National Urban League, 2008; Noguera, 1996; Noguera, 2003; Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2008; Watson, 2006). A significant body of research has supported quantitative measures, which reveal low test scores, high dropout rates, and crime and incarceration statistics that suggest that African American males are unsuccessful in school and within society (Duncan & Magnuson, 2005; Fryer & Levitt, 2006; Hoffman, Llagas, & Synder, 2003; Schott Foundation, 2008; Toldson, 2008). In decades of school reform, from Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to the current era of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (2001), and the recursive educational reforms these have ushered into our schools, African-American males continue to occupy the bottom tiers in terms of achievement at all levels of school (Donnor & Shockley, 2010; Hughes & Bonner, 2006; Mincy, 2006; National Center for Education Statistics, 2007; Noguera, 2003; Swanson, Cumiingham & Spencer, 2003). This concern raises the question why, for generation after generation, have African American males not been successful academically.

Historically, African American males bear die weight of timeless atrocities, experiencing a painful history of discrimination that continues to influence their marginalization in society. African American males are the least employed the most imprisoned, and oftentimes, the most oppressed people in America (Davis, 2003; Majors & Billson, 1992; Noguera, 2003; Ogbu, 1974). According to data from the United States Census Bureau (2003), 35 percent of African-American males between grades seven and twelve were suspended in 2000, while the National Center for Education Statistics (2007) reports that in that same year, 15 percent of African- Americans males between grades 10 and 12 dropped out of high school. The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) has also documented that 50 percent of the American prison population consists of African American men. Statistics such as these clearly indicate a cause for better solutions to the challenges African American males face in schools and society.

In this article, the author focuses on the contextual factors that have influenced the crossgenerational schooling experiences and achievement of African American males, revealing both the continuities and discontinuities that have been underexplored in past research, by using die voices of African American males to suggest directions for educational reform and future research.


On many levels die promise of educational advancement rendered in die 1954 landmark case Brown has not been fidly actualized. Years after Brown for some students, education did improve; for instance, some received far better access to resources and materials tiian their fathers have received. …

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