Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Increasing the Educational Attainment and Performance of Black Males

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Increasing the Educational Attainment and Performance of Black Males

Article excerpt

For the majority of my professional career, the educational attainment and performance of Black students have been primary themes in my research. But over the last three decades, more of my attention has been devoted to improving the educational status of Black males. While this interest has largely been influenced by my early experiences as an elementary school teacher, an Urban League Street Academy principal, and an Upward Bound teacher, serving as the chairperson of a 1987 task force to review the status of Black males in the New Orleans Public Schools gave me and my committee the opportunity to take an introspective look at this critical issue and identify more than two dozen solutions.

More than 20 years after the New Orleans study "Educating Black Male Youth: A Moral and Civic Imperative," Black males have achieved some gains in educational performance and attainment but national data show they are still disproportionately represented in negative indicators such as dropouts, suspensions and expulsions. Also, their numbers in gifted and honors programs and postsecondary institutions remain low. However, colleges and universities can play a major role in increasing the academic achievement and college attendance rates for both Black males and other high school students.

Females as a group exceed the number of males both enrolled in college and graduating with undergraduate and graduate degrees. The attendance gap between Black females and males in 2007 was 707,200! But on a positive note, Black females and males increased their share of bachelor's degrees by 54.6 percent between 1993-94 and 2003-04. Black females' share increased by 62.7 percent compared with Black males' increase of 40.6 percent. Still, Black females earned more master's degrees than Black males in 2003-2004 (32,453 compared with 13, 017); more doctorates (1,780 compared with 946); and more first-professional degrees (3,508 compared with 2,127).

So how can we "scale up" the educational attainment of Black males? First, we must reinforce their academic performance and achievement at every level of the academic continuum. Providing support and encouragement to these young men will motivate them to do well in school and lead to their matriculation into college and graduate/professional schools. Even more, recognizing their academic achievement serves a dual purpose in dispelling the myth and minimizing the pervasive negative peer pressure that doing well in school is not "cool. …

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