Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Male Achievement and the Community College

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Male Achievement and the Community College

Article excerpt

The two-year college often represents Black men's first experience with postsecondary education, and for many, their last opportunity for obtaining a degree beyond a high-school diploma.

Yet a review of student performance data provided by the California chancellor's office for community colleges indicates that African-American men are the lowest-performing sub-group in the percentage of degrees earned, persistence rates and average cumulative grade point average. Transfer rates are the only measure in which African-American men are not the lowest-performing group but are still well behind White and Asian subgroups.

In addition, we found in our 2003 study "Beware of False Promise," that Black men are less likely to meet with their instructors than other sub-groups and are less likely than any other male group to be involved in extracurricular activities.

The academic performance of Black men, along with their disproportionate representation in community colleges (more than 70 percent enrolled in California), has profound economic and social consequences, given the relationship between degree attainment and social mobility.

Some see the community college as a system that maneuvers low-income and historically excluded populations into two-year institutions. In fact, a California mandate allows for individual state university campuses to redirect students to community colleges who do not complete specified courses at the end of their first year of enrollment, effectively ensuring a stratification system based on race and class. In addition, a state budget crisis has caused the University of California to issue contracts to thousands of students promising to admit them after they complete community college.

But given the large numbers of Black men in two-year schools, community colleges indeed may be the best-positioned educational institutions to address the plight of this demographic, at least initially. …

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